Definition of Fossil – What is it?

Under ideal instances, when a living organism dies, it gets completely destroyed. Plants get eaten by animals while animals get destroyed by other animals, water, weather conditions and may other factors. However, there are times when these remains are preserved. If the dead organism is safely buried or placed in an area where it will not completely be destroyed, it becomes a fossil. Therefore, a fossil can be defined as naturally preserved remains of ancient creatures or plants that existed in the past.

Statistics show that most fossils are of invertebrates. These are animals that do not have a backbone such as insects and worms. You may want to know these facts about fossils.

  • Fossils found in rocks differ because life has undergone major changes over the years.
  • Most of the fossils available today are those of animals that are no longer existent.
  • Fossils are not always entire bodies of organisms, they may be just traces.
  • Scientists can tell the age of a fossil upon discovering it.

There are specific ways through fossils are collected, dated, and prepared. This process is done by a paleontologist. Here are more explanations about fossils.

Types of fossils

There are two main kinds of fossils. A body fossil is a collection of remains that provide proof of a creature that was once living. Most of the times, the hard parts are the ones that become fossilized. They include bones, shells, teeth, skulls and many others.

However, there also are times when paleontologists have found feathers, skins, and fur among other soft parts. Under this category, you clearly see the shape and structure of the animal that you are talking about. The second type is the trace fossils. These are not body parts of the animal because they only provide evidence of the animal’s behavior and activity. However, they are clear indications that this animal once existed. They could be footprints, feces, leaf impressions, eggs, nests, or even trails. By studying them, you can see what the creature that used to live in that place used to do, and how it looked like. All these can be preserved under special conditions.

Definition of Fossil

Why do people preserve fossils?

There are many mysteries that happened in the past, and there have never been proper explanation up to today. This earth is billions of years old Therefore, one of the best ways to unravel those mysteries is through studying fossils. Knowing the types of creatures that existed at a specific time give you an idea of how the earth was. You can easily study the lives of both humans and animals to understand where they have come from. In a nutshell, fossils carry with them a rich history that requires a thorough study to understand. They also show us the plants that were common. Through fossils, scientists have also been able to predict the future of mankind, animals, and all the other living creatures on earth.

How are fossils preserved?

When fossils are discovered, they usually are covered by lots of materials that are not part of them. They could be covered in mud, sand, rock layers, or anything else. Therefore, the first step in preserving them is to clean them. Scientists have many suggestions of how to do this. For example, there are those that will ask you to clean them using a solution of apple cider or vinegar. However, the most important thing is to ensure that you do not cause any damage. You need to leave them looking as original as possible. Since this dirt is not usually too difficult to clean off, the process is always easy. The difficult part is when it comes to ensuring that it stays in that condition for many years to come. You do not want the fossils to wear off a few days after recovering them from their original site.

What do people learn from fossils?

There are many things that fossils tell us. Layers of rocks can tell us about the history of the earth, and the fossils that are found there can help us to determine the age of those rocks. Many times, these remains have been used to classify rocks that are of the same, and different ages. They are a representation of the earth’s history. By studying these materials, scientists are able to know what happened on this planet during the time when the animals that are preserved were still alive. It is through these things that we now know that there were creatures such as dinosaurs which were wiped off the face of the earth long ago. We also can tell their lifestyles, movements, habitats, and every feature of their lives by studying the fossils that they left behind.

Where can we find fossils?

You can find fossils almost everywhere. They have been discovered on many parts of the world and some of them have been linked to important moments in history. The place where you have a higher chance of getting them is where sedimentary rocks are exposed. These are rocks that are formed in layers over millions of rocks. They include sand, silt, clay, and mud that is hardened over a long time. These sediments often accumulate in swamps, lakes and oceans. It explains the reason why most of the fossils that have been found are those of creatures that lived near lakes, rivers, seas, and other water bodies. As the rocks formed, they also brought with them some of the animal remains and persevered them naturally. You may think that it is just a skull, but it could have been lying there for millions of years before it was discovered.


Scientists have learned a lot about the ancient world through fossils. There is no doubt that they can still use the ones that have already been found and those that are yet to be found to come up with even more information. Do not believe in the school of thought that suggests that fossils have no place in the present or future world.