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Fossils are actually the remains of numerous animals that lived thousands or countless years earlier. As soon as these creatures passed away, they were hidden in layers as well as layers of planet. While their flesh would certainly rot away, the tougher parts of their body, such as coverings, bones, etc, would stay intact between the layers of debris. Currently, all those years later, those bones and shells can still be discovered, undamaged, as those layers of sediment are again discovered.