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Fossils are actually the remains of numerous animals that lived thousands or numerous years back. When these animals died, they were hidden in layers and also layers of earth. While their flesh would certainly rot away, the more difficult components of their body, such as shells, bones, etc, would certainly stay intact in between the layers of debris. Now, all those years later, those bones and shells can still be found, intact, as those layers of sediment are once more discovered.