by David H. Urmann
Posted on Saturday 1st of October 2011
Paleontology is the science that studies organism's fossil and the remains.Fossils are the things which preserve the remains, traces or impressions of animals or plants under the crust of earth.In simple words fossils are the evidence of life forms of ancient days.Nearly ninety-nine percent of the species ever existed on earth are extinct now.Their extinction has taken away the chance from us to watch these magnificent animals but their extinction was like blessing for other species.These species of animals and plants have grown up and flourished which otherwise would have not been possible because of the presence of some monster animals.
But thanks to fossil formation that enables us to imagine and visualize these marvelous and giant creatures of ancient times.
How Fossils Formed?
A series of events is responsible for forming the fossils and even if a single event is missed, we would not be able to see the fossil.The process of fossil formation is a very rare occurrence and involves several fortunate and important steps.
The first and the foremost thing in process of fossil formation is death.The animal or plant dying should fall into the place where water is present in sufficient quantity.This is due to the fact that water acts as an insulator which insulates the remains of the element else it will decompose.
Step two of fossil formation involves sedimentation.As the time passes, the exoskeleton is buried by sediments.Land and mudslides are great for this process; also river deltas are great for quick accumulation of sediments.
Sedimentation has a great influence on how well the fossil turns out; course sediment does not allow more details to exhibit while very fine grained particle such as clay helps to show minute details also.
Chemical presence also plays a very vital role in fossil formation.Presence of iron is responsible for the reddish color of the fossils while phosphate darken the appearance of the rock from gray to black.
Third necessary step for efficient fossilization is known as Permineralization.This is a process in which minerals get deposited into the internal casts of organism making it firm and solid.This is one of the best methods of preserving the fossils by nature.By the time, the sediments which are under the pressure, turns into rock and if water containing mineral percolates into sediments, our ancient animal is very well preserved.
Due to the movement of continental plates, many of the sea floors are lifted up and emerged as a dry land.The fossils so buried under hundreds or thousands of feet down the earth come close to the surface.These fossils are later discovered by some fortunate fossil hunters.
Jurassic coastline is like a heave for fossil hunters.The Dorset and East Devon are the places where hundreds of fossils have been found making it a World Heritage Site.
If you are a fossil hunter, then November to April are the best time to visit the place for the purpose.During these months, the mud flows and cliff falls due to rain and a lot of new material is exposed inviting enthusiast to explore the area.
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