Date of Oldest Fossils

What is a Fossil? How does Sedimentation lead to Fossil Formation? What are the Agents of Fossilization? Which is the Date of Oldest Fossils? Which Fossil represents the Oldest Fossils Era? When is National Fossil Day?
date of oldest fossils
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Even before early humans could discover ways to preserve things, nature preserved various animals and other prints and converted them into fossils. Humans came to know about the ancient period, their lifestyle, culture, etc. through these fossils. But do you know the date of oldest fossils and what is oldest fossils era? Have you heard about the oldest fossil of human that was discovered thousands of years ago? Let’s find it out.

1. What is a Fossil?

Any preserved remains, trace or impression of a living thing from the past geological era is known as a fossil. Exoskeletons, bones, shells, petrified wood, oil, DNA remains, amber, hair, and stone imprints of animals and microbes are all fossils. (See What are Some Examples of Artifacts?)

2. When do Preserved Remains become Fossils?

For any preserved material from an old period to be considered a fossil, the date of oldest fossils must be more than 10,000 years old. Long periods of time are required for things or remains to be converted into fossils. And in this period, only those parts of the organisms that were mineralized during the life of the organisms are fossilized. (See What does Fool’s Gold look like?)

3. How does Sedimentation lead to Fossil Formation?

Fossils of shells in gray mineral: date of oldest fossils 5
Photo by Ashleigh Joy Photography on Unsplash

When an animal or other living being dies, its soft body parts decompose faster than the strong ones, like bones, teeth, and hair. During the earliest times, these parts were buried by small rock particles called sediments. And when layers over layers continue to form, the sediments around these hard body parts start to get hard and compact. In the end, it turns into rocks and, over the period these hard parts also decompose, leaving a mark on the rocks. The date of oldest fossils will be discussed in detail in the next segments, so continue reading. (See What are the Characteristics of Sedimentary Rocks?)

4. What are the Agents of Fossilization?

Every fossil today was once a living thing. There may have been some accidents or a natural calamity that made them fossils over long periods. However, it is a long process that consists of various minor and major processes, namely,

5. Which is the Date of Oldest Fossils?

You think that the date of oldest fossils is usually for the dinosaurs, but it is not so. Because dinosaurs were just about 243 million years ago, life on earth was thriving long before that. The fossil that represents the presence of life on the earth about 3.4 billion years ago is one of the stromatolites. This fossil is present in the Invertebrate Paleontology Collections. It has a striped appearance, which is thought to have developed as a result of the continuous layering of cyanobacteria. Must read our article on the Interesting History of Dino Bones to know more.

6. Where did the Oldest Fossil belong to?

Cyanobacteria are unicellular microorganisms that are aquatic and mostly found on coastal plains. Therefore, the fossils of a billion-year-old stromatolite were also discovered in the Archean Rocks of Western Australia. These microorganisms are still found living on the coasts and in the water of Australia. (See All Types of Dinosaur Names and Pictures)

7. Which Fossil Represents the Oldest Fossils Era?

A crustacean fossil: date of oldest fossils 4
Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash

Paleontologists divide the age of life on the earth into geological times. This helps them divide the numerous fossils into the respective eras they belong to. The Precambrian era, Paleozoic era, Mesozoic era, and Cenozoic eras are the four categories divided based on timescale. All these oldest fossils eras have seen different types of fossils.

8. What is the Precambrian Era?

Creatures like jellyfish, worms, and other soft-bodied organisms lived during this period. It was about 542 million years ago. Therefore, it is also called the Age of Early Life. And the oldest fossils of stromatolites, microorganisms, and other simple-celled organisms discovered are from this era. Also, check out 7 facts about real Cavemen.

9. What is the Paleozoic Era?

During this period, fish developed and diversified. Marine life was at its peak more than any other animal. This era was the period between 541 million and 252 million years ago. Fossils discovered from this era include cephalopods and trilobites like squids, along with ferns and insects of different types. The end of this era is marked as the greatest mass extinction on earth. (See What are Geologic Features?)

10. What is the Mesozoic Era?

Fossil of a flying dinosaur: date of oldest fossils 3
Photo by Lisa Yount on Unsplash

This era is known as the Age of Reptiles, and it began 252 million years ago and lasted for 66 million years. This era was marked by the presence of dinosaurs, crocodiles, and pterosaurs, along with various creatures thriving both on land and in the air. Marine animals include ammonites (coiled shells), reptiles like plesiosaurus, and others that ruled the sea. Fossils of dinosaur bones and teeth, marine animals, along with various other species of plants, are the result of this era. (See Why Did the Archaeopteryx Become Extinct?

11. What is the Cenozoic Era?

This era was marked by the presence of mammals, therefore, the name Age of the Mammals. The era that began 66 million years ago and is still going on is termed the Cenozoic era. The oldest fossils like early horses, cat-like carnivores with big fangs, and our very favorite woolly mammoth from the ice age are from this era. Must read about the monkeys have entered the Stone Age facts.

12. When was the Oldest Fossil of Human Discovered?

Two fossils can be counted in this regard. The first is Naram-Sin, and the second is Lucy. The first one was the ruler of the Akkadian Empire, who ruled circa 2200 BCE and was discovered by another ruler, King Nabonidus, in circa 550 BCE. This discovery gave him the title of the first archaeologist. However, Lucy is a 3.2 million-year-old fossilized human skeleton that was discovered in 1974 in Hadar, Ethiopia, and is considered the oldest fossil of human ancestors considering the other fossils and their date of oldest fossils. (See What Dinosaur Has 500 Teeth?)

13. Which is the Latest Fossil?

Archaeologists and paleontologists are never at rest. Right now, while you are reading, they may be digging out another fossil. However, the recently known fossil that was discovered also belonged to humans from the mysterious human lineage known as the Denisovans. The bones are considered to be 200,000 years old. Scientists later discovered stone artifacts that are related to these fossils. Scientists termed these fossils as the extinct relatives of modern humans. (See Are Dinosaurs Alive?)

14. When is National Fossil Day?

Fossils of flowers: date of oldest fossils 1
Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash

To celebrate Paleontologists and their great discoveries that are still going on, the National Park Service of the United States decided to start National Fossil Day. Earlier, it was celebrated on 13-October-2010 but in the later years, the dates changed while keeping the month the same. Every year, this event is marked by different themes. This year it will be celebrated on 12-October-2022, Wednesday.

So, the date of oldest fossils is long ago, even before the dinosaurs. And all the fossils are marked by the oldest fossils era. I wonder if the oldest fossil of human was really human or something else? (Also read What are the 3 Types of History?)

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