Welcome to ‘Fossils on Friday!’ So, after looking at ‘geology’ last week, let’s move on a bit to fossils.
Fossil is a very old word – Latin in fact. So, what does it mean? It is actually made up of two words – Foss – il. ‘Foss’ refers to a hole that is dug, and ‘il’ refers to what is within it. So fossil literally means ‘What’s in a hole’ or ‘obtained by digging’.
So, if you want to find a fossil, where should you look? In a hole of course! But is anything ‘in a hole’ a fossil? Not quite, but it used to be!
In the past, all buildings, human bones, rocks, pottery, and bits of rubbish you dug up all used to be called fossils. But then we began to categorise things. Buildings, human bones, pottery and old rubbish is now called ‘archaeology’ “Study of Antiquity (or people from the past),” rocks now come under ‘geology’, and fossils are now classed as “The preserved remains and/or traces of ancient life”.
Most fossils are preserved in rocks, so the study of fossils – palaeontology – is considered part of geology. Fossils can also be preserved in clay, mud, and while they’re not true fossils, sometimes even in ice – like the woolly mammoths is Siberia.
There are plenty of places to find fossils in Britain – we will introduce you to some of these places as we go, but a good place to start is the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. You won’t need many tools – the best thing is your eyes!
Fossils come in all shapes and sizes, so many kinds, so many places to find them. Because of this, we will spend a couple of weeks looking just at fossils, and what we can learn from them. So get ready for lots of fun discovering fossils!