Johnson Farm Tracks
The Formation of Fossils
Fossils are the record of life preserved in monuments of stone. Almost all
living organisms can leave fossils, but usually only the hard parts of plants
and animals fossilize. Soft internal organs, muscle, and skin rapidly decay
and are rarely preserved, but the bones and shells of animals are good
candidates for fossilization. Almost no fossil record exists for soft
organisms such as jellyfish and worms.
|Dinosaur Track. [ more ]|
|Raptor Dinosaur Egg Fossils. [ more ]|
|Copralite - Dinosaur Dung. [ more ]|
|Dinosaur swimming tracks. [ more ]|
Fossils include the footprints of animals left in soft mud, later to be buried,
and turned into stone. In some areas herds of fossilized tracks have been
found such as at the Johnson farm in St. George, Utah
. One of the more exotic
fossils is that of swimming tracks made by animals as they brush
against the mud and silt floors of an ocean or lake. Under certain
circumstances fossils of animal dung, eggs
, and even complete nests with eggs
have been preserved in stone.
|A spider entombed in amber. [ more ]|
Fossils are formed in a number of different ways, but most are formed when
a plant or animal dies in a watery environment and is buried in mud and
silt. Soft tissues quickly decompose leaving the hard bones or shells
behind. Over time sediment builds over the top and hardens into rock.
As the encased bones decay, minerals seep in replacing the organic material
cell by cell in a process called "petrification." Alternatively the bones
may completely decay leaving a cast of the organism. The void left behind
may then fill with minerals making a stone replica of the organism.
Fossils can form in unusual ways. Small bugs or insects can become
trapped in tree sap. Eventually the sap hardens and forms the semiprecious
material called amber. In some pieces of amber the entombed remains of
organisms can be found. Volcanic eruptions can form fossils when animals get
trapped in the hot ash flows. In this case, the fossil is a hole in the
shape of the animal.
By far the most common fossil remains are those of shelled invertebrate sea
loving creatures such as snails, corrals, and clams. These make up most of
the fossil record. Plants can leave fossils. In fact coal is the fossil
record of whole forests; however, individual plant structures usually do not
survive as the plant materials are compressed to less than one hundredth of
their original size.
Fossils of land animals are scarcer than those of plants. In order to become
fossilized, animals must die in a watery environment and become buried in the
mud and silt. Because of this requirement most land creatures never get the
chance to become fossilized unless they die next to a lake or stream. Indeed
there may be whole species of land animals in which no fossil record has been
discovered. We may never know how many and diverse these animals were.
Copyright © 2003-2008 Calvin & Rosanna Hamilton. All rights reserved.