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Fossils are actually the remains of various creatures that lived thousands or millions of years earlier. When these animals died, they were buried in layers and layers of earth. While their flesh would certainly rot away, the tougher components of their body, such as shells, bones, etc, would remain intact between the layers of debris. Currently, all those years later, those bones and also shells can still be found, intact, as those layers of sediment are again uncovered.