When you hear the word fossil, you probably think of things like dinosaurs and other animals that lived a long, long time ago. Fossils are something that can help us learn about animals and plants that lived millions of years ago. They help us learn about history before people existed. So what exactly are fossils, and how are they formed? Let’s explore what fossils are, how they are made, who studies them, and what they can tell us about the past.
What Are Fossils?
Fossils are rock like materials that show evidence of things that lived on the Earth a very long time ago. They can be found in many different places around the world from the desert to the ocean. They can tell us many things about the past and they are also really neat to look at. The conditions have to be just right for a fossil to form and out of all the plants and animals that exist, very few turn into fossils. Let’s take a look at how fossils are formed.
How Fossils Are Formed
Fossils start to form when an animal or plant dies. The soft parts will begin to rot away, and after some time, only the skeleton will be left. For a fossil to form properly, the remains of the plant or animal must be buried pretty quickly. The remains can be buried in lots of different things including mud, sand, silt, and even ash from a volcano; these things are called sediment.
Over time, more sediment will cover the remains of the animal or plant and the pressure caused by this will start to turn the sediment into rock. Once the remains are buried deep and surrounded by rock they will begin to dissolve and what is left is kind of a mold of the plant or animal. Over many years, that mold is filled with minerals and forms what is called a cast. The cast will have the same shape and look of the original remains.
Over millions of years, the deeply buried fossil will start to rise to the Earth’s surface. The fossil will rise to the surface because of things like earthquakes and other things that can cause rocks deep in the Earth to move. Eventually, once the fossil comes to the surface, the rock surrounding it will start to wear away and then the fossil can be seen.
Who Finds and Studies Fossils?
Paleontology is the study of fossils and a person that works in paleontology is called a paleontologist. Other people that might find fossils include archaeologists and geologists. Archaeologists are people who study prehistoric life and can learn a lot from fossils. Geologists are scientists that study rocks and may also come across fossils. There are even places where you can go out and dig for fossils! Museums are a really great place to see and learn about fossils as well.
Fossils are really neat objects that are not only cool to look at but can teach us tons of information about the past. We can learn about dinosaurs and even creatures that existed before the dinosaurs; things that were around millions and millions of years ago!
Learn more about fossils by visiting the websites below.
- How Are Fossils Made? – An overview of how fossils form over millions of years.
- How Do Fossils Form? – Learn about the different steps of fossil formation with pictures to go along.
- Fun Fossil Facts For Kids – A list of cool facts about fossils and how they are made.
- How Fossils Were Formed – Learn about how dinosaur fossils in particular were formed.
- What Are Fossils? – Information about fossils and how they are not made of bone like many people think.
- What is a Fossil? – Pictures of fossils and lots of information about how they form.
- Fossils For Kids – Have fun with fossil games, videos, and other activities.
- Make Your Own Fossil – A cool project where you can make your own fossil with coffee grounds; make sure to ask for your parents’ help.
- Salt Dough Fossils – Another fun project where fossils can be made with salt dough.
- Fossils and Dinosaurs – Let Andreas teach you about fossils and dinosaurs.
- Fossil Facts – A list of questions and answers to help you learn about fossils.
- Fossil Fabricator Game – A fun online game where you can search for fossils.
- Dino Dig – Search for dinosaur fossils and dig them up in this game.