This movie requires Flash Player 8. Download Flash Player 8

 
Issue Features
  
Discovery Magazine 11/1/2003

How Fossils are Found

by  A.P. Staff

Once you start learning about dinosaurs, it doesn't take long to discover that most of our information about them comes from fossils. But what are fossils? A fossil is any trace left by something that lived in the past. Animals, plants, and humans have all left many fossils. Some of the most famous fossils are those of the dinosaurs.

How are fossils formed, you might ask? Does every living animal or plant tum into a fossil when it dies? No, every living thing does not become a fossil. In fact, it is very rare for an animal or plant to be fossilized. Let's think about this for a minute. If you see a dead animal on the side of the road, what usually happens to that animal? Does it tum into a fossil? No, it doesn't. Most of the time, scavengers such as buzzards or opossums carry it off. Also, bugs, worms, bacteria, and enzymes cause the animal to rot and decay so that, eventually, no trace of it remains. However, that is not always the case. In some instances, an animal (like a dinosaur) or a plant gets buried very quickly. No scavengers can find it, and oxygen, which is a major cause of decay, cannot get to it. Even in this protected environment, much of the soft tissue (such as fur and skin) decays, but the harder structures (like bones and teeth) last longer. Water that contains minerals, such as silica, seeps through the bones and teeth. The animal's bones begin to decay, but the minerals in the waterstarttofillinthedecayingareas.Eventually,mineralsreplacethe entireboneortooth.Whenthefossilisdiscoveredyearslater,theoriginalboneshaveturnedintomineralizedrock.Thisisoneofthewaysfossilsareformed.

In some cases, the animal is buried and decays entirely, but when it does, it leaves a hollow mold that preserves the shape and size of its bones. Another type of fossilization occurs when insects like mosquitoes or flies get trapped in tree sap (called amber).

Some people think that this process of fossilization must take thousands or even millions of years, but that is not the case. In fact, a miner's hat has been found that had been totally fossilized (turned into rocky mineral). Also, a western boot was found that had a bone inside it that had fossilized. The boot, however, had not fossilized, which shows that some materials, such as bone, fossilize better than other materials, like leather or animal skin.

When we find fossils of dinosaurs, we often find them in huge piles all jumbled together. These large piles of dinosaurs must have been buried very quickly. What do you think could have buried many huge dinosaurs at the same time all around the world? One good answer would be the Flood of Noah. If local floods today can cause whole roads and houses to be buried, just imagine what a worldwide flood could do! When we look at the "record of the rocks," we find that fossils do not take millions of years to form, and that the Flood of Noah's day could easily have created many of the fossils we see today.



Copyright © 2010 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

*Please keep in mind that Discovery articles are written for 3rd-6th graders.

This document may be copied, on the condition that it will not be republished in print unless otherwise stated below, and will not be used for any commercial purpose, as long as the following stipulations are observed: (1) Apologetics Press must be designated as the original publisher; (2) the specific Apologetics Press Web site URL must be noted; (3) any references, footnotes, or endnotes that accompany the article must be included with any written reproduction of the article; (4) textual alterations of any kind are strictly forbidden; (5) Some illustrations (e.g., photographs, charts, graphics, etc.) are not the intellectual property of Apologetics Press and as such cannot be reproduced from our site without consent from the person or organization that maintains those intellectual rights; (6) serialization of written material (e.g., running an article in several parts) is permitted, as long as the whole of the material is made available, without editing, in a reasonable length of time; (7) articles, in whole or in part, may not be offered for sale or included in items offered for sale; and (8) articles may be reproduced in electronic form for posting on Web sites pending they are not edited or altered from their original written content and that credit is given to Apologetics Press, including the web location from which the articles were taken. Further, documents may not be copied without source statements (title, author, journal title), and the address of the publisher and owner of rights, as listed below.

For catalog, samples, or further information, contact:

Apologetics Press
230 Landmark Drive
Montgomery, Alabama 36117
U.S.A.
Phone (334) 272-8558

http://www.apologeticspress.org

Web Store

Discovery Bound Volume 2013

A year's worth of Discovery articles

Featured Audio

Listen

Click the following link to visit our Multimedia section.

Featured Audio