Fossils are the preserved remains of an animal or plant in a rock. Many of the fossils discovered so far are the ancestors of organisms that are alive today. The study of fossils is called paleontology.
Much of what we understand about evolution comes from studying fossils.
When organisms die, their remains usually break down into nothing. Very occasionally, the right conditions occur and fossils are created. There are different methods in which fossils form. One of these is for a dead organisms to quickly become trapped and buried in sediment. Minerals cause the non-decomposed remains to crytsalise in the process of permineralisation. Another method in which fossils can be created is by the organisms being covered in a non-porous coating such as tree sap (think of amber).
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