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witnesses of the past - fossils

What are fossils?
As a fossil (Latin: fossilis = dug out) every evidence of past life (plants and animals and their locomotion, food etc.) from earth's history is defined, which is older than 10,000 years. All the remains of a prehistoric creature (body fossils) and its signs of biological activity (trace fossils) in the rocks are fossils.

four types of fossils
  • real fossils
  • pseudomorphosis
  • endocasts
  • imprints
How do fossils occur?
Fossilisation is only possible if a dead or still living organism is embedded in a layer (of sediment or mud), which prevents its destruction by scavengers and its decomposition by oxygen.

What is palaeontology?
Palaeontology comes from the Greek and means "science of the creatures of the earth's past". This science is one of the most recent scientific disciplines of today. Its most important branches are the palaeozoology and palaeobotany, which include the studies of flora and fauna of earth's distant past. They enable researchers to develop a fairly accurate picture of the fauna and flora of our planet and to describe what life was like before and how it has evolved .

What are index fossils?
The so-called "index fossils" are animal and plant fossils, which are typical for a certain geological layer and that only occur in this layer. If one finds the same index fossils in two (apparently) different layers, one proves that these layers are the same age. Index fossils from deeper layers are older than others from overlying layers. They are the key to many secrets of our planet.
   

Kopffüßer
Foto: R. Hurding

 

Fossiliensammlung

 

Dreilappkrebs (Trilobit)
Foto: Dr. H. Domnick

 

Dreilappkrebs (Trilobiten)
Foto: Dr. H. Domnick

 

 

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