Traces of the past……
Fossils are traces of things that happened long agoPlants and animals can become fossilsWe have only discovered a small number of the plants and animals from the pastFossils are not the original, only a copy
What happened before
The most famous example of fossilized plants is petrified woodFerns, tree leaves, and other plants have been found, too
The most famous fossils are of dinosaursThere are also fossils of sea creatures and mammalsSometimes many fossils are found in one place because of a flood, earthquake, or other disaster
Fossils are often found by accidentPaleontologists and geologists use clues in the rocks to find good places to hunt for fossilsExcavating fossils is hard work, and must be done carefully
How fossils are found
A fossil is made when a plant or animal is covered quickly with mud or ashThe organism’s tissues are replaced over a long period of time with minerals from the soil it was buried inFossils can be dated by the layer of rock they were found in, or by radiocarbon dating
How are fossils made?
Many fossils give us an idea of what life was like long agoPlants give clues about the diet of animalsAnimals give clues about the availability of plants and the climate when they livedMany clues fit together to make a more complete picture of what the world was like long ago
Clues to the past
No matter how many clues we have, we can never really know what life was like long agoWe can make an educated guess, and fill in the gaps using what we know about life todayIt’s fun to imagine what it was like when the dinosaurs lived. Try it next time you feel bored!