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