The word fossil refers to the preserved remains (bones, teeth, shells, plant, exoskeleton) or traces (coprolites (poo), footprints, tracks) of animals and plants that lived in the geological past. “Fossil” is derived from the Latin word Fossilis meaning “obtained by digging”.
The oldest fossils that have been found date to around 3.7 billion years ago, these are fossilised remains of stromatolites a type of cyanobacteria. The earliest multi-cellular organism dates to around 1.5 billion years, a simple seaweed-like fossil found in China. More complex multi-cellular life begins its fossil evidence around 600 million years ago. To put this in perspective the oldest Homo sapiens (our ancestors) fossil is only a mere 195,000 years old. 

For Fossilisation to occur a unique set of environmental conditions must occur (or else the specimen will just decay). Fossils usually occur in water which is low in oxygen, then a rapid burial by sedimentation, continued sediment accumulation which hardens to form rock, dissolved minerals in ground waters fill in the spaces of the fossil over time with mineralisation we get a fossil! Conditions favour fossils of aquatic life wetlands, ocean, river basins rather than terrestrial life forms.

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