These pages describe the major fossil groups that are commonly found. Fossils are the preserved remains of plants and animals whose bodies were buried in sediment under ancient seas, lakes and rivers.
Although the soft parts of the body usually decayed after death, the hard parts — teeth, shells and bones — were preserved as the sediment hardened to rock. In exceptional cases, soft parts like feathers or skin, or other evidence of life, such as footprints or dung may also be preserved.
Fossils give us a useful insight into the history of life on Earth — they provide a record of how creatures evolved, how continents now widely separated were once connected, and how environments have changed across the face of the globe through geological time.