Common Errors About Fossils.
When you think of fossil, many people think it is still the actual animals body that has somehow survived the ages, as many as millions to billions of years. If this were true, that would be wondrous. The reality is, though, those bones are mostly long gone.
Fossilizing happens under certain conditions. It doesn't happen under all conditions. If the bones are eaten by predators, smashed up, or just not buried, we will never find them, and those will never be species we have in the records of history. Simply, somethings will never fossilize, even though bone is a tough substance.
If the conditions are right, such as an animal, dinosaur, fish winding up in sediment, or being buried quickly, or a mass extinction leaving no predators to predated on the bones and flesh, then we can get fossils. But they are not the original thing that once died and lay there. What we do get is mineralized rock in the form of bones.
There has only ever been one instance where actual bone,with hemoglobin was found. That fossil must have been in a tight place where neither water, nor minerals, nor air could touch it, because otherwise there is no way for hemoglobin to survive that long, let alone the bones.
Some fossils are older, some are younger, and while most of us now know how they are dated, you can look at what we do see. Now when it comes to bone, we get mineralized rock in the place. That doesn't go for all things. For instance fossilized marine life, sometimes the shell, though fragile, is still in tact, but with trilobites who had their hay day during the Cambrian, are also fossilized rock.
Depending on the age of the fossil, the location, the size, the burial, we get various things. One fossilized man found in a bog still had his skin and bones intact. Fossils of Wolly Mammoths are indeed fossils, though some contain bone. The longer they have been in their entombed environment and gone through changes the more likely you are to only get rock, though rock lets us know they were there.
Some people think that what we find are just old bones. If that were the case, we would be more likely to find DNA. We would also likely have more specimens, with more intact bodies, and understand more about the line of evolution.
Now don't get me wrong, evolution did happen, it isn't only a theory, but a solid fact. With millions of fossils we do have a vast body of evidence. But we didn't get that because a great flood swept all these animals under mud and now we are getting their bones back out. No they have lain under the ground for millions and millions of years.
Through the land moving, jutting up and being turned over we are unearthing the history of our wild planet. We are discovering the vast attempts at life that were taken by literally billions of species, and as we learn what we are looking for and where to look, we are finding more and more history of this planet.
Fossils are treasures, because they guide us through what our planet has gone through. If there was a way to watch history unfold with video, it would be astounding. But the fossils act like a story book and each layer another tale in how humans got to be here, and what it took for that to happen.
Through the layers of time, each marked by different environments, plants, animals, we can look to the past. Though the real thing is no longer there, what is serves to remind us how fragile life is, and how much this planet has changed. While you can't get a fossil overnight, or even over a few hundred years, as we see in human skeletons, what we have to do is wait patiently for millions of years, and the outcome is priceless.