Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Fossil

1. anything removed from the earth (archaic).

2. anything ancient, especially if removed from the ground (e.g. fossil fuel).

3. evidence left by a previously living organism, generally dated to older than the Holocene epoch, i.e. older than 10 ky; cf. subfossil. Fossils are usually removed from consolidated rock, but may be mere impressions or molds between compressed strata, or they may be bone or tissue subjected to permineralization, or traces of behavior, e.g. burrowing scars left by fossorial organisms or evidence of other motility patterns such as walking or crawling.

See ancient DNA, diagenesis, dubiofossil, endocast, Laetoli footprints, living fossil, microfossil, paleontology, pseudofossil, taphonomy, and trace fossil.

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