The history of life ~ above our world is a long and also winding path. Much of what us know about how life has actually evolved comes from fossils. The physical continues to be of organisms and the proof of behaviors, such together footprints, tell us where, how, and who old life was. Uncovering the fossil document requires researchers with numerous different locations of expertise, including geology. Expertise geology is crucial to studying paleontology because fossils are maintained in rock. The attributes of the rocks that hold fossils deserve to be as informative as the fossils themselves.

You are watching: Remains or traces of organisms preserved in rock are called _______.

There space three main varieties of rock: igneous rock, metamorphic rock, and also sedimentary rock. Almost all fossils are preserved in sedimentary rock.

Organisms the live in topographically low places (such together lakes or ocean basins) have the best chance of being preserved. This is due to the fact that they are currently in areas where sediment is most likely to ask them and also shelter them from scavengers and also decay. Mudstone, shale, and also limestone are examples of sedimentary rock likely to contain fossils. As the great of sediment develop up on height of one another, they create a physical timeline. The earliest layers, in addition to the organisms that were fossilized as they formed, are deepest. The youngest great are found at the top. Analysis the great is complex by the reality that together continents move and mountains rise, the layers are often tipped sideways and also altered in other ways.

Throughout the earth"s history, each of the three rock species has been consistently formed and also recycled into other varieties of absent in a process called the “rock cycle.” This provides the rock record fragmentary and difficult to read, but enough rock has actually been produced over time come tell us a lot about the history of our planet.


Igneous rock is created by the cooling that molten rock, either at the surface ar (lava), or secret (as granite or other similar rocks). The heat of molten rock usually incinerates organisms fairly than maintaining them. There are some exceptions, such as tree trunks surrounded by lava and also preserved as casts, however these room rare. 


Metamorphic rock is created when existing rock is reinvented under high heat and also pressure, which normally destroys any fossils that were in the rock prior to it was metamorphosed. For example, marble is produced when limestone is pressure-cooked in ~ the earth, resulting in the minerals that write the rock to re-form into new crystals.


Sedimentary rock is formed by the accumulation of minerals and also other material. Together rocks at the earth"s surface are broken down, or “weathered,” the sediment is moved by forces such together water and also wind and deposited in other places in layers. End time, these layers build up and solidify, ending up being sedimentary rock. Organisms can be kept as fossils if your bodies are buried within this layers.

Interactive Geology ProjectIGP is a team of scientists and animators based in ~ the college of Boulder who mission is come illustrate basic principles that geology in to chat and accessible ways.

See more: Born With A Silver Spoon Meaning, Born With A Silver Spoon In Mouth

A Brief history of with TimeThis 25-minute movie illustrates the geologic evolution of through time.

Visit Us

Henderson Building15th and Broadway, Boulder, CO 80309Directions and also Parking

Contact Us

 303-492-6892  cumuseum

Hours of operation

Monday to Friday: 9am – 5pmSaturday: 9am – 5pmSunday: 10am – 4pm

Become a Museum Insider

Join us today and support the Museum’s continuous mission that research, education, and also stewardship that the largest collection that natural and also human history artifacts in the Rocky mountain Region. Learn much more about becoming a Museum Insider!