How old is the youngest fossil we have? I’ve searched my books, but none really tell me the answer.

Sorry guys, wrong thread. I’ll ask one of the administrators to move it.

You might as well leave it here, where it’s going to end up eventually anyway. :slight_smile:

Depends on what you count as a “fossil”. There are naturally preserved organisms or parts of organisms that are as little as a week old. Going back a few years to a few centuries, you have the bones of cattle and bison drying in the desert, or the shells of mussels and oysters being buried on the beach. Mineral replacement of bone material can be accomplished in a few years given the right chemicals in the groundwater.

I suppose that what I am trying to say is that there is no set point where a dead organism switches from being considered just a dead thing to being a “fossil”.

Dr. Fidelius, Charlatan
Associate Curator Anomalous Paleontology, Miskatonic University
“You cannot reason a man out of a position he did not reach through reason.”

Mynd you, møøse bites Kan be pretty nasti…

Jesse Helms/ Less than 100 years old.

Yer pal,

Wow…he’s a lot younger than he looks…must be all that branch water.

Lex Non Favet Delictorum Votis

Dr. F, how do you do those o’s with the slashes through them? Quoting the moose credits just doesn’t work without them.

At Lissa’s request, I’m moving this to General Questions. Please try to keep it over there by dealing with the question, not a creation/evolution debate.


David B, SDMB Great Debates Moderator

Are they still finding fossils nowadays? Or are all the dinosaurs,etc. accounted for? They’ve probably excavated everywhere by now,anyway.


They are constantly finding new fossils and fossils of previiously unknown organisms. There is a heck of a lot of sedimentary rock in the earth. Fossils are usually found in those portions of the rock that has happened to be at the surface (it is VERY difficult to find things in rock that is still buried under tons of other rock; the only time anyone bothers is if they can make money off it, like in mining for gold or coal). A typical fossil finding expedition includes an old curmudgeon of a professor and a half dozen students going out to a horribly inhospitable desert for a few weeks over the summer. The obvious limitations in manpower this method entails practically ensures that only a fraction of the ACCESSABLE fossiliferous strata are surveyed with any precision. I shudder to think of all the specimens that are lost to human knowledge because no one with the expertise to recognize them or the funding to extract them was able to see them before they were weathered away to useless dust.

You can find fossils anywhere you have sedimentary rocks. Around here,there are a lot of areas of limestone and shale (in a nature reserve you can see what used to be the walls of a submarine canyon). In one of the historic buildings in Monterey, they have examples of fossils found in the local limestone. One of the most common fossils from the ancient oceans are sharks teeth (so i hear).

When I worked at The Field Museum of Natural History a few years back, the Exhiits and Education departments defined a fossil as “any evidence of prehistoric life.” And since “historic” means different things to different people in different places, there is no hard-and-fast line. But given this definition, you’d have a hard time convincing a scientists that anything less than 6,000 years old is a fossil. They’d be more likely to call it “remains.”