Explainer: How a fossil forms

By Sarah Zielinski, 17:15 PM June 17, 2014

Most times, when a living thing dies, it just rots. It leaves no trace that it was ever there. But when the conditions are just right, a fossil may form.

For this to happen, the organism typically must first become quickly buried in sediment on the floor of the sea or some other body of water. Sometimes it may even land in something like a sand dune. Over time, more and more sediments will pile atop it. Eventually compressed under its own weight, this growing accumulation of sediment will tran...

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