Trace fossils

It's not only the actual bodily remains of dead animals and plants that can become fossils. Things created or left behind by animals can also fossilise, such as their footprints, burrows and dung. These are known as trace fossils. They can often give clues as to the behaviour of the creature that made them, assuming it can be identified. Even non-living things can fossilise, such as the ripples on the seabed. On rare occasions, the remains of lightning strikes have been found - the sand fused into strange shapes by the energy of the lightning bolt.

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Fossil hunting

Palaeontologist looking at a fossil of a ammonite that he has found among rocks on a sea shore. Fossil hunting is enjoyed by amateurs and professionals alike. In fact, palaeontology is one of the few sciences where amateurs have made - and continue to make - important new discoveries.

When these fossils formed