What is a fossil?

What is a fossil?

When most people think of fossils they think of dinosaur skeletons and large bones, but there are many different types of fossils to be found.

Do you know what a fossil really is? Do you know how they form? And do you know what they tell us about the past? Confused? Read on!

Cartoon dodo with 'question mark' thought bubble

Learn the basics

Fossils are the remains of once living animals or plants. People have been finding fossils in rocks for thousands of years, but until quite recently they didn't understand what they were.

Today we recognise that the fossils we find in rocks represent the ancestors of the animals and plants that are alive today.



Palaeontologist holding fossil Megalosaurus jawbone, with bookshelves in the background

This is the lower jawbone of the Megalosaurus, the meat-eater dinosaur that once lived in the Oxfordshire area during the Jurassic period. Look at those teeth!



Fossils are the remains of animals or plants. Why not find out more about fossils?

Learn more about fossils on the Museum website