Three small ammonite fossils, each approximately 1.5 cm across.
A fossil of a trilobite which lived about 444 million years ago. Genus Asaphus
Lower Proterozoic stromatolites from Bolivia, South America. These were produced by cyanobacteria. Polished vertical slice through rock.
A mosquito and a fly trapped in amber
Fossil locust from the earliest Upper Cretaceous, ~95 million years ago, Santana Formation, Brazil. Genus Orthoptera

A fossil is the remains or trace of an ancient living thing.[1]

Fossils of animals, plants, or protists occur in sedimentary rock.

In a typical fossil, the body form is retained, but the original molecules that made up the body have been replaced by some inorganic material, such as calcium carbonate (CaCO3) or silica (SiO2). The fossil feels like, and is, made of rock. It has been mineralised or petrified (literally, turned into rock).

A fossil may also be an imprint or impression of a living thing remaining in the fossilised mud of a long-gone age.

Some organisms fossilise well, others do not. The most common fossils are those left behind by organisms that produce hard materials. The hard, calcitic shells of molluscs (such as clams and snails) and of now-rare brachiopods (also known as lampshells) are examples. These sea-dwelling shellfish have produced many fossiliferous (that is, fossil-bearing) chalky layers of limestone in the earth.

Soft-bodied organisms can fossilise in special circumstances: the Ediacaran biota is a good example.[2]

The best-known fossils for the general public are those of the giant, prehistoric dinosaurs. The fossilized bones and fossilized tracks of these huge, ancient reptiles can be seen in many museums of natural history and earth science.

The study of fossils by geologists and biologists is known as paleontology. If the study puts living things in their ecological context it is called paleobiology.

Places of special preservation

There are some sites where fossils have been found with remarkable details, or in large numbers. Palaeontologists call these sites by the German term Lagerstätten. The La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles is such a place. So are the Solnhofen limestone quarries in Bavaria.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Fossiel
Alemannisch: Fossil
العربية: مستحاثة
asturianu: Fósil
azərbaycanca: Fosil
تۆرکجه: فوسیل
বাংলা: জীবাশ্ম
Bân-lâm-gú: Hòa-chio̍h
Basa Banyumasan: Fosil
беларуская: Акамянеласці
български: Вкаменелост
bosanski: Fosili
brezhoneg: Karrekaenn
català: Fòssil
čeština: Fosilie
Cymraeg: Ffosil
dansk: Fossil
Deutsch: Fossil
eesti: Kivistis
Ελληνικά: Απολίθωμα
English: Fossil
español: Fósil
Esperanto: Fosilio
euskara: Fosil
فارسی: سنگواره
français: Fossile
Frysk: Fossyl
Gaeilge: Iontaise
galego: Fósil
한국어: 화석
हिन्दी: जीवाश्म
hrvatski: Fosil
Ido: Fosilo
Bahasa Indonesia: Fosil
íslenska: Steingervingur
italiano: Fossile
עברית: מאובן
Basa Jawa: Fosil
қазақша: Қазындылар
Kiswahili: Kisukuku
Kreyòl ayisyen: Fosil
Latina: Fossile
latviešu: Fosilijas
Lëtzebuergesch: Fossil
lietuvių: Fosilija
Limburgs: Fossiel
magyar: Fosszília
македонски: Фосил
മലയാളം: ജീവാശ്മം
मराठी: जीवाश्म
Bahasa Melayu: Fosil
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Huá-siŏh
Nederlands: Fossiel
नेपाली: जीवावशेष
日本語: 化石
norsk: Fossil
norsk nynorsk: Fossil
occitan: Fossil
ଓଡ଼ିଆ: ଜୀବାଶ୍ମ
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਪਥਰਾਟ
Plattdüütsch: Fossil
português: Fóssil
română: Fosilă
Runa Simi: Rumiyasqa
русский: Фоссилии
Scots: Fossil
shqip: Fosilet
සිංහල: පොසිල
سنڌي: فاسل
slovenčina: Fosília
slovenščina: Fosil
српски / srpski: Фосил
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Fosil
Basa Sunda: Fosil
suomi: Fossiili
svenska: Fossil
Tagalog: Posil
తెలుగు: శిలాజము
Türkçe: Fosil
اردو: رکاز
Tiếng Việt: Hóa thạch
West-Vlams: Fossiel
Winaray: Posil
ייִדיש: פאסיל
粵語: 化石
中文: 化石