Where can I find Fossils?

Fossil formation occurs when some trace of organic life (whether it be a footprint or an actual foot) is preserved beyond the original organism's decomposition. Examples include fossilized tissue, excrement, egg shells, trackways, burrows, and nests. The process of fossil formation varies depending upon the initial remains and the conditions under which they are preserved.

In some cases, organic tissues such as bones, skin and feathers, etc. are replaced by minerals from the ground through leaching. The result is a sort of statue of the original organic material. In other instances, the sediments surrounding the organic remains harden into rock, creating a mold of the original and thereby preserving its external form.

In the case of fossilized footprints, the sediments in which the print was formed can harden into rock casting a partial mold of the foot which left the print. Fossil formation can also occur when an organism becomes immersed and preserved in a resinous substance like tree sap. This sort of fossil was popularized by the blockbuster hit movie Jurassic Park. The fossilized mosquito from which the cloning scientists extract dinosaur DNA was preserved in amber.

 

TYPES OF Fossils & evidence of ancient life:

PLANT REMAINS

Hard seeds and woody structures are more commonly found than flowers and leaves. The flowers and leaves themselves are not preserved, but the carbon impression of them can leave most of the detail showing their delicate structure.

ANIMAL REMAINS

Teeth, bones and shells are much more commonly found than the rarer skin, flesh, fur, and hair and feather parts. Usually only 1 or 2 bones and or teeth are found at a time and you can count yourself extremely lucky if you come across or unearth a whole skeleton.

There has been the odd rare occasion when an entire mammoth has been discovered in places such as Alaska or Siberia, frozen solid for millions of years. These ‘frozen fossils’ have preserved not only the bones and teeth but the entire animal.

MOLLUSKS

Just like today when you can pick up sea shells along the sea shore, during prehistoric times the shells of sea animals also collected along the banks plains and coastline, when the sea retreated the shells became covered in mud, silt and sands and can be found today throughout many geological periods.

AMBER

(Fossil Tree Resin) - Amber is fossil tree resin (tree sap), sometimes fossil insects can be found trapped in the amber. Amber is highly sought after and is usually made into jewelry.

There are a number of locations along the UK coast where amber is found, Southwold is one of the most popular locations in East Anglia.

Amber is comes in several colors, such as orange, yellow, green or red.

COAL, GAS, OIL

More commonly known as 'Fossil Fuels'. The burning of fossil fuel is said to be speeding up climate change by increasing levels of Carbon Dioxide (Co2) in the atmosphere causing heat to become trapped causing 'The Greenhouse effect'.

Coal is actually dead fossil plants and animals carbonized and compressed over time which is why it is so highly flammable. Oil is also the remains of animals and plants but was formed during marine environments. Natural Gas was formed from rotting vegetation.

MOULDS AND CASTS

(trace fossils) - Often fossils found are not the original plant or animal material, but the mould or cast of it. During fossilization the original material sometimes dissolves away leaving a cavity, which, over time fills in with other dissolved substances. This type of fossil is known as a mould. Casts are another type of fossil found. Casts are hollowed impressions of the original fossil or mould. Types of casts that can be found are the foot prints and animal trails.

RIPPLE MARKS AND MUD CRACKS

Occasionally, rocks that were formed in shallow seas, lakes or rivers have been left with ancient ripple marks on them caused when the soft mud dried. Mud cracks were formed in a similar way, when the soft wet mud dried out quickly.

Ripple marks and mud – cracks can tell us much about the climate and environment when they were formed. For instance, we know there must have been water, sun and warm temperatures at the time they were made.

COPROLITES

The fossilized excrement of animals. The discovery of the true nature of this material was made by the English geologist William Buckland, who observed that certain convoluted bodies occurring in the Lias (rock strata of Early Jurassic age, 187 to 208 million years old) of Gloucestershire had a form that would have been produced by their passage in thesoft state through the intestines of reptiles or fishes. These bodies had long been known as fossil fir cones and bezoar stones. Buckland's conjecture that they were of fecal origin and similar to the excrement of hyenas was confirmed on analysis; they were found to consist essentially of calcium phosphate and carbonate and not infrequently contained fragments of unaltered bone. The name coprolites (from Greek kopros, “dung”; and lithos, “stone”) was accordingly given them by Buckland.

FOOTPRINTS (trace fossils)

Fossilized footprints of dinosaurs and mammals can be found. The photo shows a dinosaur footprint at Hastings, UK. These are formed in certain conditions such as mud when the dinosaur walked over muddy land, over time sediments laid on top and the footprints can be found today.

BORINGS (trace fossils)

Borings are small channels and tunnels made by worms and mollusks that lived millions of years ago.  Such fossils are common. Sometimes petrified mood shows borings also.

GASTROLITHS

Gastroliths are smooth, rounded pebbles found in rib cages of dinosaurs. These stones probably aided the dinosaurs’ digestion just as gravel in their gizzards helps chickens crush grain. Polished gastroliths are found only in “dinosaur country.”

ARTIFACTS

Artifacts are objects such as stone tools or weapons made by ancient man. Found in many parts of the world, the oldest have been found with bones of animals now extinct. The first stone artifacts were crude and difficult to recognize. More recent ones were chipped and polished to make beautiful implements.

SEDIMENTARY ROCKS

Sedimentary rocks are formed from pre-existing rocks or pieces of once-living organisms.

They form from deposits that accumulate on the Earth's surface. Sedimentary rocks often have distinctive layering or bedding. Many of the picturesque views of the desert southwest show mesas and arches made of layered sedimentary rock.

STRATA

In geology and related fields, a stratum (plural: strata) is a layer of rock or soil with internally consistent characteristics that distinguishes it from contiguous layers. Each layer is generally one of a number of parallel layers that lie one upon another, laid down by natural forces. They may extend over hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of the Earth's surface.

Strata are typically seen as bands of different colored or differently structured material exposed in cliffs, road cuts, quarries, and river banks. Individual bands may vary in thickness from a few millimeters to a kilometer or more. Each band represents a specific mode of deposition: River silt, beach sand, coal swamp, sand dune, lava bed, etc.

LIMESTONE

Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed of the mineral calcite (calcium carbonate). The primary source of this calcite is usually marine organisms. These organisms secrete shells that settle out of the water column and are deposited on ocean floors as pelagic ooze (see lysocline for information on calcite dissolution). Secondary calcite may also be deposited by supersaturated meteoric waters (groundwater that precipitates the material in caves).

This produces speleothems such as stalagmites and stalactites. Limestone makes up approximately 10 percent of the total volume of all sedimentary rocks. Pure limestones are white or almost white. Because of impurities, such as clay, sand, organic remains, iron oxide and other materials, many limestones exhibit different colors, especially on weathered surfaces. Limestone may be crystalline, clastic, granular, or dense, depending on the method of formation. Crystals of calcite, quartz, dolomite or barite may line small cavities in the rock. Chert or Flint nodules are common in limestone layers. Bands of limestone emerge from the Earth's surface in often spectacular rocky outcrops and islands.

SHALE

Shale is a fine-grained sedimentary rock that is formed by the compression of muds. This type of rock is composed primarily of quartz and minerals that are found in clay.

Shales can be broken easily into thin, parallel layers. Shale is ground up for use in making bricks and cement.

SANDSTONE

Sandstone is an arenaceous sedimentary rock composed mainly of feldspar and quartz and varies in color (in a similar way to sand), through grey, yellow, red, and white. Since sandstones often form highly visible cliffs and other rock formations, certain colors of sandstone may be strongly identified with certain regions. For instance, much of the American West is well-known for its red sandstones.

Rock formations that are primarily sandstone usually allow percolation of water, and are porous enough to store large quantities, making them valuable aquifers. Fine grained aquifers, such as sandstones, are more apt to filter out pollutants from the surface than are rocks with cracks and crevices such as limestone or other rocks fractured from seismic activity.

RIPPLE MARKS AND MUD CRACKS

Ripple marks and mud cracks characterize many sedimentary rocks formed in shallow waters. For example, ripple marks are common In shale.

Mud cracks may form as mud and clays dry. These imply the presence of sunlight, water and moderate temperatures - conditions related to the possibilities of life.
 

PSEUDOFOSSILS

Pseudofossils are rock structures that resemble fossils. They may have any shape and often look like parts or plants or animals. A geologist will usually recognize a pseudofossil at once, but an amateur may be misled. Pseudofossils resemble fossils only in external form. They never have the detailed structure of true fossils. They way occur in improbable situations, as tor instance a footprint” in rock formed long before any creatures walked on land.

Pseudofossils are formed in many ways. Some are water-worn fragments of rock. Concretions which form in sedimentary rock way contain a fossil, though most do not. Concretions, harder than the rock in which they occur, are often found on the surface. Some minerals form dendrites or fanlike deposits on or in rocks. Moss agates are dendrites, not fossil moss.

Other examples of common pseudofossils include:
  • Concretions

  • Cone in Cone structures

  • dolomite "pseudo-coral"

  • pyrolusite dendrites on dolomite

  • polished moss agate



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