Fossils are the preserved remains of animals, insects, and plant life.
They are from geological ages long ago. Keep reading to find out 20 facts about fossils that everyone should know.
20 Facts About Fossils Everyone Should Know
1. Fossils Are Everywhere
Fossils have been found on every continent.
From the freezing top of Mt. Everest to the bottom of the sea.
People have even found them in their backyards.
Fossils can be discovered in petrified wood, amber , coal, oil, and sedimentary rock.
The vicinity and way in which they are found can tell us a lot about what the climate, plant life, and terrain of an area was like millions of years ago.
2. Fossil Scientists
Scientists who study fossils are called Paleontologists.
Their work can be extremely time-consuming.
Great care and patience must be had to be a paleontologist. It is because of these scientists that we know dinosaurs once roamed the earth.
3. What’s In a Name?
The word fossil comes from the Latin term “fossils”, meaning obtained by digging.
4. Fossil Types
The most common types of fossils are impression, trace, and replacement.
• Impression fossils contain imprints of long gone, ancient animals and plants. This type of fossil will form after the organism lands in mud, sand, or silt. The plant or animal will eventually disappear, but the impression will remain. After time, the substance will harden into rock and leave behind an impression of the remains.
• Trace fossils will capture the activity of extinct animals. A footprint or scat ( poop) will make an impression in soft material. That material will, over time, form into rock, leaving a trace of the animal.
• Replacement fossils are replicas of organisms that once lived. These once living things got trapped and died. Over time, other minerals, such as silica, iron, and amber will overtake the organism and leave fossilized remains in its place.
5. Requirements to be a Fossil
In order to be considered a fossil, a specimen must be at least 100,000 years old. It must be preserved underground. It must also be mineralized in some way.
6. Fossil Feces
Fossilized poop is called Coprolite.
It is a trace fossil. These fossils are actually quite popular and valuable.
They can give great insight as to the animals’ diet.
They also tell us what type of plant life was abundant at the time.
This will also give us clues as to the climate of the area at that time.
7. Giant Parrots
Fossils have been able to prove that parrots were once over 3 feet tall!
The fossils were found in 2008.
Paleontologists were able to trace the big bird back 16 to 19 million years.
It also weighed over 15 pounds.
Scientists first thought it to be an eagle because nobody could believe a parrot could be so large.
8. How Old are Fossils?
As stated earlier, in order to be considered a fossil, a specimen must be at least 100,000 years old.
However, it would be considered a shiny new rock compared to some fossils.
One of the oldest known fossils is 3.5 billion years old. They are bacteria found in Archaean rocks in Australia.
9. Fossils at Hell Creek
One of the most studied areas for fossils is the Hell Creek formation. It spans parts of Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas.
It is in this area over 66 million years ago that a meteor struck. 75% of animal and plant life is believed to have been taken out.
Including the dinosaurs! Paleontologists have uncovered a plethora of fossils in this area. From fish and dinosaurs to long extinct plant life and bacteria.
It’s a favorite site for scientists. Hell Creek is also open to the public and has an education center.
10. Ocean Fossils
Marine life mollusks were the first ever recorded fossils.
Discovery of the ancient shellfish has been recorded as early as 570 B.C. It was from these fossils that Ancient Greek scholars were able to figure out that land was once submerged underwater.
11. Fossils are More Than Bones
Fossils are more than just the skeletal remains of ancient animals. They are also the remnants of bacteria, fungi, sponges, plants, and insects.
12. Keep a Fossil and Go to Jail
There are some countries that will send you to jail for finding and keeping a fossil. For example, in Mongolia, all fossils are considered government property.
However, in the United States, if you find one on your property, it’s yours to keep.
Paleontologists and local officials do ask that you register the artifact so it can be studied. You cannot dig for fossils on government property.
13. Coal and Fossils
Coal is the remains of ancient prehistoric plant life. Which is why so many fossils are found in mines. This is where the term fossil fuel originated.
14. Museum Displays
Most “fossils” we see on display in museums are replicas.
Light weight plastic or resin copies of the the real thing. The actual fossils are extremely delicate. They are stored away for protection and research.
15. Fossil Fangs
Fossilized teeth can tell us which animals were carnivores (ate meat), herbivores (plant eaters), or omnivores (ate both meat and plants).
This also gives Paleontologists clues as to what animals were predators and which ones were prey.
16. Biggest Fossil Ever
The biggest fossil ever uncovered was that if a petrified tree in Thailand.
It was over 237 feet long when discovered. Researchers believe it was much larger when it was alive.
17. State Fossils
In the United States, each state actually has an official fossil.
18. Mighty Fine Fossil
The most well preserved fossil ever discovered was in a mine in Alberta, Canada.
It was a Borealopelta, from the ankylosaurus family.
It still had skin, tissue, and it’s last meal intact! He was over 20 feet long and weighed 1.5 tons!
19. The Most Common Fossil
The most commonly found fossil is the tooth of the Megalodon shark.
Since sharks regularly shed their teeth, they are fairly easy to find.
However, large teeth from this species are rare and have great value.
20. Fossils Have a Holiday
National Fossil Day is celebrated each year on the second Wednesday of October.
It’s a day when Paleontologists and fossil lovers can celebrate these geological time capsules.
Fossils are amazing learning tools for anyone interested in geological science. We hope you found our list of 20 fossil facts informative.
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