Fossils Fossils Fossils

  Fossil Fun Facts 

What are fossils?  

Fossils are defined as the remains or impressions left behind by plants, animals or any living organisms thousands of years after they were alive. There are two classified types of fossils.

Type I : the remains of the dead organism/the imprint left behind; example: bones, teeth, hair, skin impressions, impression of an animal/plant

Type II : (trace fossils) something made by the organism while it was living that was turned into stone; example: footprints, burrows, poop

How are fossils made?   

There are several ways fossils are formed. A few:

Freezing (refrigeration) – The best but most rare occurring way to preserve ancient materials. The organism must be frozen from time of death until it is discovered. In Alaska/Siberia there have been animals such as mammoths and rhinoceroses found with flesh, skin and hair intact.

Drying (desiccation)– Also known as mummifying. Soft tissues of animals and humans can be preserved for thousands of years if they’re completely dried out.

Permineralization-The most common form of preservation. Starts with the organism dying in or near water close enough to fall in. The water insulates the remains while sediments starts to pile on. Eventually the organism becomes compacted by how much weigh is on top of it and the built up sediment turns to rock and leaves behind an impression of the organism.

Replacement – Cell walls in organisms dissolve and are replaced by minerals

Fossil Formation Flowchart

How old are fossils?  

Scientists agree that in order to officially be considered a fossil, the specimen must be at least 10,000 years old and usually range up to a whopping 500,000,000 years old.

Oldest Fossil – Traces of microscopic life found in Greenland dates back somewhere between 3,700 and 3,800 million years ago.

For more information behind how paleontologists date fossils click here

Fossil records  

The Largest Nautiloid –  Endoceras; from the Ordovician Period, 13 feet (3 1/2 meters) long.

Biggest shark- Megalodon; 40-50 feet long; 48 tons.

The Biggest Trilobites – Isotelus rex; found in northern Manitoba;   28 inches (72 centimeters) long.

Largest Dinosaur – Sauroposeidon meaning “earthquake god lizard”; 60 feet tall (18 meters) ; 60 tons