Quick Definition: What Is A Fossil?

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


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.

Explore Further

Scientific paper where researchers simulated the permineralization process to create an artificial fossil set: