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What Are Fossils?
Where Are Fossils?
Where to Look for Fossils
How to Look for Fossils
Discover What You Have

Dinosaur Dig

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Where Are Fossils?

Photo of Coyote Mountains
Sediments are deposited in layers, sometimes burying traces of life. These sedimentary rocks are stratified.

The oldest known fossils are 3.5 billion years old. What's happened in the past 3.5 billion years? The Earth is a very old place, and it's always changing: changing landscape, changing seas, changing weather, changing life. Every plant, every animal, every fungus, every bacterium eventually dies. Maybe it gets eaten, partly eaten, or it rots. If it gets buried and preserved, a fossil is formed. Wherever you are, you might be standing on a fossil.

Clue #1: Remains or traces of life are preserved when they get buried, and protected from total destruction. Look for fossils where stuff might have been buried.

Clue #2: Most fossils are found in sedimentary rock. (Sedimentary rocks are made of sand, silt, mud, or cobbles. Sediments are often carried in water, and deposited in layers or strata. Look for rock that is stratified. Not all sedimentary rock is hard.)

Clue #3: Learn where you can find sedimentary rocks and how old they are. Ask your science teacher, go to the library, go to a science museum, join a geology club, look around and get dirty.


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