Any preserved traces, impression, or trace of any once-living thing from a past geological period is known as a fossil. Bones, eggs, exoskeletons, animal or microbe imprints in stone, amber-preserved artifacts, feathers, petrified wood, oil, gas, and DNA fragments are only few examples. 

Fossils range in scale from one-micrometer microbes to fossils and trees that are several meters tall and weigh hundreds of tons. 

In most cases, a fossil only retains a fraction of the dead body, commonly the portion that was partly preserved during development, such as vertebrates' bones and teeth or invertebrates' chitinous or calcareous exoskeletons. Fossils may also be made up of the marks that an object left behind when it was living, such as animal footprints or feces (coprolites). In contrast to body fossils, these kinds of fossils are known as trace fossils or ichnofossils. Chemofossils or biosignatures are biochemically preserved fossils.

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Here are 5 of the most famous fossil discoveries in history: 

Yuka Mammoth

(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

Yuka is the best-preserved carcass of a woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius). Local Siberian tusk hunters found it in 2010. They handed it over to local scientists in 2012, who conducted an initial examination of the carcass.

It can be seen as a display in Moscow.

The mammoth was discovered on the Oyogos Yar coast, about 30 kilometers west of the Kondratievo River's mouth in Siberia's Laptev Sea district. Yuka is a juvenile female natural mummy that was discovered near the village of Yukagir and named after the people who found it.


Cyanobacteria Microfossils
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

Cyanobacteria have a long history of fossilization. A Cyanobacteria from Archaean rocks in western Australia are the earliest known fossils, dating back 3.5 billion years. This may come as a surprise, given that the oldest rocks are just 3.8 billion years old.

Cyanobacteria are one of the simplest microfossils to identify. The group's morphologies have remained largely unchanged for billions of years, and they can also leave chemical fossils in the form of pigment breakdown materials. SEM and TEM have been used to study small fossilized cyanobacteria isolated from Precambrian rock (scanning and transmission electron microscopy).


(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

AL 288-1 is the generic name for several hundred fragments of fossilized bone that make up 40% of the skeleton of a female Australopithecus afarensis hominin. The assembly is also known in Ethiopia as Dinkinesh, which means "you are marvelous" in Amharic. Lucy was discovered in Africa in 1974 by paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History at Hadar, a site in the Awash Valley of the Afar Triangle in Ethiopia.

The discovery of what appeared to be a nearly complete hominid skeleton sparked much celebration and enthusiasm later that night, November 24. There was drinking, dancing, and singing, with the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" played repeatedly. The skeleton was assigned the name "Lucy" at some point during the night. No one recalls when or by whom the name was given. 

Turkana Boy

Turkana Boy
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

Turkana Boy, also known as Nariokotome Boy, is the name assigned to the KNM-WT 15000 fossil, a nearly complete skeleton of a Homo ergaster (also known as African Homo erectus) youth who lived between 1.5 and 1.6 million years ago. This is the most detailed skeleton of an early human ever discovered. Kamoya Kimeu discovered it on the bank of the Nariokotome River near Lake Turkana in Kenya in 1984.

The sample's age at death is estimated to be between 7 and 11 years old.

Sue the T-Rex

(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

Sue is the nickname given to FMNH PR 2081, one of the most complete, detailed, and well-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex specimens ever discovered, with over 90% recovered by bulk. Sue Hendrickson, an adventurer and fossil hunter found it on August 12, 1990, and it was named after her. The fossil was auctioned in October 1997 for US$8.3 million, the largest price ever charged for a dinosaur fossil until October 7, 2020, when T. rex Stan was auctioned for US$31.8 million after ownership issues were resolved. Sue has been a permanent exhibit at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History.

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