What are fossils?
The word fossil comes from the Latin word fossilis. Fossils are traces of any preserved remains or living organisms such as shells, bones, footprints, or leaf impressions.
Most fossils are found in sedimentary rock. And other fossils may be found entangled in igneous rock, or replaced by heat and pressure in metamorphic rock. Some fossils resemble the size of the original organism. fossils those buried deep under sedimentary layers can be bent, crushed, or rotated under great pressure. Typically, hard parts of an animal or plant, such as bones, teeth, shells, seeds, or wood, can all become fossils.
The term fossil was first used in 1546 by the German scientist Georgius Agricola. During this time, the term fossil was used to describe all the minerals and metals dug from the ground. The term is now used to describe objects made explicitly by living organisms in the past. In general, fossils are generally considered to be objects more than 10,000 years old.
Types of fossils
The following are the three major types of fossils:
- body fossils
- Trace fossils
Body fossils are the preserved skeletal or structural forms of an organism, and in some rare instances, preserved soft tissue. They are the most common type of ancient preservation.
Chemofossils are the chemical signature of life in rock. Those organic chemical compounds can be signs of some organisms, or can detect elements that are the result of biological processes.
Trace fossils are evidence of biological and behavioral activities of organisms while they were alive, including tracks, trails, burr, leaf imprints, and skin marks.
Why are fossils important?
Without fossils, the history of life on our planet in hundreds of millions of years will remain unknown to us. We will not know how life started and what it took shape. There will be no record of many catastrophes and extinctions that affect life on our planet.
We will have no clue that large and diverse reptiles called dinosaurs once roamed the Earth, or that continents are constantly moving, changing the face of our planet, climate, and flora and fauna. Without a fossil record of how life has changed over millions of years, eventually there would be no concept of evolution. And we have no idea how Homo sapiens came into existence on this planet.