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Fossils are actually the remains of numerous animals that lived thousands or millions of years earlier. As soon as these animals died, they were hidden in layers and layers of earth. While their flesh would rot away, the more challenging parts of their body, such as shells, bones, etc, would remain undamaged in between the layers of sediment. Now, all those years later, those bones and also coverings can still be found, intact, as those layers of sediment are again discovered.