Quick Definition: What Is A Fossil?

Here you will see how scientists define "fossil" and you will get an overview of how fossils form.

Overview

A fossil is any preserved body part, excrement, or impression of an organisms that lived in the distant past. It’s rare for a dead animal or signs of its past existence to be preserved but when they are preserved, we can learn a lot about how the organisms once lived.

One way that fossils can be preserved is through natural burial shortly after death, followed by permineralization – a process where a body part is permanently infused with hard minerals.

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