How are fossils formed? - Australian Museum

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* How are fossils formed? *

For a plant or animal to become a fossil, a series of events must occur...

From dinosaur to fossil: stage 1

From dinosaur to fossil: stage 1
© Australian Museum

The remains have to be buried before they completely decompose or are
eaten. The conditions of burial must then be suitable for the remains to
leave an impression or have their organic material replaced by minerals.
Finally, the fossils must survive millions of years of pressure, uplift and
erosion if they are to come back to the surface.

So what are the chances of any dead animal turning into a fossil? Many
millions to one – so we certainly appreciate the fossils we find.

-From dinosaur to fossil-

Stage 1

A dinosaur dies and is buried before the remains are completely destroyed.

Stage 2

Over time, layers of sediment build up and press down on the buried

Stage 3

Dissolved minerals, transported by ground-waters in the sediment, fill tiny
spaces in the bones. The combination of pressure, chemical reactions and
time eventually turns the sediments into rock and the bones into
mineralised fossils.

Stage 4

The fossils remain within the rock until uncovered through erosion or

Last Updated: 8 April 2013

Tags fossils, formation, sedimentation, fossilisation, fossilization,

- Related sections -

· Fossils

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· Sedimentary processes
· Common Fossils of the Sydney Basin

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From dinosaur to fossil: stage 2

From dinosaur to fossil: stage 2


how are fossils formed

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