Mammal bone fossils, illustration

Mammal bone fossils, illustration

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Credit: MICHAEL LONG/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Mammal bone fossils, illustration. These fossilised bones are in a type of rock known as marl. The process of fossilisation begins when an animal dies and the body ends up in a location such as sediments below water. The soft tissues decay, while minerals in the skeleton are gradually replaced by minerals from the mud. These minerals solidify into a form of stone or rock, preserving the shape and structure of the bones. The fossil may remain underground, or may eventually be exposed by erosion of the surrounding material. Marl is a carbonate-containing mudstone that consists of variable amounts of clays and silt.

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