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What Is A Fossil?
What is a fossil? While this is a simple question, the answer can be simple or a bit more complicated.
So now you have one short and one long answer to the question: "What is a Fossil?" Let's build on that.
Type II- Something that was made by the animal while it was living that has hardened into stone. These are called trace fossils.
Type II includes:
Type I fossils can be the actual thing that it once was, like a piece of bone or hair or feather. More often the bone material is replaced by different minerals contained in the liquid of the sediments that buried it. What was once bone is now some sort of crystal or mineral.
This process also takes place with shells, exoskeletons and wood. If the spaces in the bone are filled with liquid minerals which later harden it is called permineralization.
Sometimes the organic material is dissolved by the mineral-laden water. The process happens so slowly that each cell is dissolved and replaced by a particular liquid mineral before it hardens. This is called petrification. In petrification, every detail down to the cellular level is duplicated in the minerals.
Type I can also be molds or casts of the original animal or plant part. If the original organism decays, leaving an imprint and an empty space, it is called an exterior mold or simply a mold. If a space in the structure is filled with minerals as the original animal or plant part dissolves, it is called a cast.
So now you have the short answer and the long answer to the question "What is a fossil?”
Was that more info than you were seeking? I hope not! Fossils are the illustrations on the pages of rock that are the earth’s history. I think the more you know, the more you’ll want to discover about these fascinating traces of life we call fossils.
About the Author: Claudia Mann is a teacher, and a contributor to http://www.fossils-facts-and-finds.com where you can Learn more about fossils and fossil formation. Claudia and her husband own http://www.fossilicious.com, a place where you can find great fossils at great prices.