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Fossils and fossil types

We learn about the earthís past by studying rocks. Evidence of animals that lived long ago is preserved in rocks as fossils. Fossils are marks or material left in rock layers by living things. Fossils are created in several ways. These are some fossil types:

mold hollow impression of a living thing in rock after it tubeworm traces
cast solid mineral deposit that filled a mold, leaving a copy of the living thing Dinosaur bone reciving a cast
imprint an impression in rock made by a living thing during its life activities  dinosaur footprint trackway
petrification plant or animal tissue replaced by minerals petrifide wood
whole animal an entire plant or animal encased and preserved in ice, sap, or another material  

Edward Hichcock (1793-1864)Dinosaurs are fascinating to people because they are animals that lived all over the world, then suddenly disappeared. We have learned about dinosaurs from the discovery of both body fossils and trace fossils. Body fossils include parts of the dinosaurís actual body, such as teeth, bones, or scales. Body fossils are rare because they only exist in the place where the dinosaur died and was buried. Trace fossils are traces or marks of the dinosaurís life, such as bite marks, nests, eggs, droppings, and footprints. Most fossils are trace fossils, since dinosaurs left marks on the earth almost every day they lived. While body fossils give important facts about the size and shape of a dinosaur, they tell little about the life of a dinosaur. Trace fossils (ichnofossils) can show how a dinosaur moved, hunted, rested, ate, made families, and much more. One of the most interesting and informative of the trace fossil types is the dinosaur footprint. The scientific study of dinosaur tracks is called paleoichnology from Greek palaios, meaning ancient, and ichnos, meaning footprint. The first known dinosaur tracks were discovered in 1802 in Massachusetts and were first studied by Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864). Hitchcock was one of the first dinosaur track scholars in the world, as a  professor at Amherst College. In the 1830s, he published his first work on dinosaur footprints and is generally credited with the theory that dinosaurs had their evolutionary origin in birds.


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