(redirected from fossilization)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.


remains or imprints of plants or animals preserved from prehistoric times by the operation of natural conditions. Fossils are found in sedimentary rock, asphalt deposits, and coal and sometimes in amber and certain other materials. The scientific study of fossils is paleontologypaleontology
[Gr.,= study of early beings], science of the life of past geologic periods based on fossil remains. Knowledge of the existence of fossils dates back at least to the ancient Greeks, who appear to have regarded them as the remains of various mythological creatures.
..... Click the link for more information.
. Not until c.1800 were fossils generally recognized as the remains of living things of the past and accepted as an invaluable record of the earth's history.

The Formation of Fossils

Conditions conducive to the formation of fossils include quick burial in moist sediment or other material that tends to prevent weathering and to exclude oxygen and bacteria, thereby preventing decay. Shells and bones embedded in sediment in past geologic time, under conditions suitable for preservation, left exact reproductions of both external and internal structures. Skeletal remains have been preserved as a result of the engulfment of an animal's body in ancient asphalt pits, bogs, and quicksand. At Rancho La Brea, near Los Angeles, Calif., asphalt deposits have yielded a rich variety of skeletons of birds and mammals. Some fossils have been found buried in volcanic ash; such fossil deposits exist in the Cenozoic rocks of the W United States.

The Creation of Natural Molds

Sometimes, after specimens were enclosed in the rock formed from the hardened sediments, water percolating through the ground dissolved out the remains, leaving a cavity within which only the form was preserved. This is known as a natural mold. When such molds are discovered by fossil hunters, casts can be made from them by filling them with plastic materials. If molds have been filled with mineral matter by subsurface water, natural casts are formed. Molds of insects that lived many millions of years ago are sometimes found preserved in amber. These were formed by the enveloping and permeation of an insect by sticky pine tree resin which hardened to become amber. So perfectly formed are these molds that detailed microscopic studies can be made of the insect's minute structure. Molds of thin objects such as leaves are usually known as imprints.

The Preservation of Flesh and Soft Parts

Fossilization of skeletal structures or other hard parts is most common; only rarely are flesh and other soft parts preserved. Impressions of dinosaur skin have aided scientists in making restorations of these animals. Imprints of footprints and trails left by both vertebrate and invertebrate animals are also valuable aids to studies of prehistoric life. Coprolites are fossilized excrement material; if it is possible to determine their sources they are useful in revealing the feeding habits of the animals.

Entire animals of the late Pleistocene have sometimes been preserved. In Siberia some 50 specimens of woolly mammoths and a long-horned rhinoceros were found preserved in ice with even the skin and flesh intact. Several specimens of the woolly rhinoceros bearing some skin and flesh have been found in oil-saturated soils in Poland.

The Petrifaction of Remains

Petrifaction is another method of preservation of both plant and animal remains. This can occur in several ways. Mineral matter from underground water may be deposited in the interstices of porous materials, e.g., bones and some shells, making the material more compact and more stonelike and thus protecting it against disintegration. The original material may be entirely replaced with mineral matter, molecule by molecule, so that the original appearance and the microscopic structure are retained, as in petrified wood. Sometimes, on the other hand, all details of structure are lost in the replacement of organic matter by minerals, and only the form of the original is retained. In shales are sometimes found the silhouettes of plant tissues (more rarely of animals) formed by the carbon residue of the organism that remains after the volatile elements have been driven off.


See C. L. and M. A. Fenton, The Fossil Book (1958, rev. ed. 1988); M. Murray, Hunting for Fossils (1967); M. J. Rudwick, The Meaning of Fossils (2d ed. 1985); S. J. Gould, Wonderful Life (1989).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


The organic remains, traces, or imprint of an organism preserved in the earth's crust since some time in the geologic past.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


a relic, remnant, or representation of an organism that existed in a past geological age, or of the activity of such an organism, occurring in the form of mineralized bones, shells, etc., as casts, impressions, and moulds, and as frozen perfectly preserved organisms
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


In software, a misfeature that becomes understandable only in historical context, as a remnant of times past retained so as not to break compatibility. Example: the retention of octal as default base for string escapes in C, in spite of the better match of hexadecimal to ASCII and modern byte-addressable architectures. See dusty deck.


More restrictively, a feature with past but no present utility. Example: the force-all-caps (LCASE) bits in the V7 and BSD Unix tty driver, designed for use with monocase terminals. (In a perversion of the usual backward-compatibility goal, this functionality has actually been expanded and renamed in some later USG Unix releases as the IUCLC and OLCUC bits.)


The FOSSIL (Fido/Opus/Seadog Standard Interface Level) driver specification for serial-port access to replace the brain-dead routines in the IBM PC ROMs. Fossils are used by most MS-DOS BBS software in preference to the "supported" ROM routines, which do not support interrupt-driven operation or setting speeds above 9600; the use of a semistandard FOSSIL library is preferable to the bare metal serial port programming otherwise required. Since the FOSSIL specification allows additional functionality to be hooked in, drivers that use the hook but do not provide serial-port access themselves are named with a modifier, as in "video fossil".
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (
References in periodicals archive ?
As has been previously pointed out, each relevant aspect of this study (fossilization, self-monitoring, self-evaluation) had been addressed by different researchers (Alvarez & Munoz, 2007; Arciniegas, 2008; Caicedo, 2011; Chang, 2010; Goto & Lee, 2006; Hasbun, 2007; Kormos, 2000; Pillai, 2006; Qian & Xiao, 2010; Sanchez Lujan, 2012; Wei, 2008); however, none had tried to address fossilization from the present study's point of view.
Such damage resulted from fossilization, not a fall, a critic of the new research contends.
We need to be aware, nonetheless, that the various factors operating here (overgeneralization, simplification, and overuse) may reinforce each other leading to fossilization in the IL as formulated in the Multiple Effects Principle proposed by Selinker and Lakshmanan (1992).
Fossilization tends to affect production skills (speech, writing) much more than comprehension skills (listening, reading) for the very good reason that in speech and writing one must orchestrate many more language rules than in comprehension.
1.2) of the internal layer in Ditrupa arietina (Zibrowius & ten Hove 1987; ten Hove & Smith 1990), seem to be completely substituted by a homogeneous structure during fossilization. Thus, the serpulid fossils with a prismatic structure may yield more valuable information for the taxonomic and phylogenetic studies than the ones with a secondary homogeneous structure.
Her statement that "the industry can no longer point to the FDA as responsible for the 'fossilization' of processes" was borne out the very next day when the agency issued a new guidance document entitled Process Validation Requirements for Drug Products and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients Subject to Pre-Market Approval, which deletes the previous requirement for three validation batches at commercial scale as adequate minimum proof of process validity.
Amber is formed as a result of the fossilization of resin, which takes millions of years to be formed.
Consequently, security and electronic exchange of data needs led to the development of proprietary maintaining processes like wide area networks (WAN) and virtual private networks (VPN) and to system fossilization.
The hyphae are septate and probably represent signs of incipient decay of the stem prior to fossilization. The water-conducting tissue (xylem) consists of cells with annualar/helical thickenings or pits.
Evidence suggests that onychophorans have been evolving as a separate group by more than 500 million years and that the modern concept of a Cambrian "explosion" reflects an artifact of fossilization, in agreement with what was believed nearly 200 years ago (Monge-Najera and Hou 2000).
Lev Vygotsky's concept of fossilization, which refers to the phenomenon of learning being lost over time and only behaviors remaining in learning, can help explain this phenomenon.