Fossils provide scientists called palaeontologists clues of ancient life on Earth. Paleontologists carefully remove fossils from the ground and record all the details about where and how the fossils were found. This helps us understand why the living organism may have died and why it may have been found in this particular location. Here are some important facts about fossils.
Petrified wood logs in the Petrified Forest, Arizona. Petrified wood is a fossil.
Photo Credit: nps.gov
Interesting Facts about Fossils
- Scientists study the facts about each fossil they find to find out clues about where they animal may have lived, what they ate, how old they were and how they died.
- There are two main types of fossils including mold fossils and petrified fossils.
- Mold fossils occur when the living organism is trapped in material such as sediment that later becomes bedrock. The organism decays leaving behind a void space in the sediment. Minerals from the surrounding sediment and from rock seep into the void space creating a hard fossil over time.
- Petrification is a different type of fossil that occurs with wood or bone. Minerals absorb into the wood or bone, replacing the original organic material over time. Fossils that are petrified have much more detail.
- Dinosaur bones which are found by paleontologists are typically petrified.
- The largest single fossil ever found is a petrified tree. It was found in Thailand and is over 237 feet (72 meters) long. Scientists estimate that the tree would have been over 330 feet (100 meters) tall when it was living.
- Huge fossil beds bigger than the largest single fossil were discovered in different parts of the world. Fossils of entire marshes and swamps were discovered in shale and coal beds.
- The largest dinosaur fossil found is a 110 foot long dinosaur called the Argentinosaurus, found in central Argentina
- Since many bones get mixed together and become fossilized, matching the fossils back together is difficult. In the past, scientists have mistaken different fossil bones together because they were found mixed together with other fossils.
- Fossils have been found in bedrock including sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rocks.
- No marine dinosaur fossil has ever been found.
- Most fossils are found near water since the organisms are covered much faster starting the process of fossilization.
- Fossils are found on every continent on Earth including Antarctica and at the top of Mount Everest near the highest point on Earth! The presence of fossils indicates that much (or all) of the Earth was covered by water at some time.
Photo Credit: nps.gov
Fossilized sea shells
Photo Credit: Flickr: Laurence Ireland