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Fossils are actually the remains of various animals that lived thousands or millions of years earlier. As soon as these animals passed away, they were buried in layers and layers of earth. While their flesh would certainly rot away, the more difficult parts of their body, such as coverings, bones, etc, would remain intact between the layers of sediment. Currently, all those years later, those bones and shells can still be located, intact, as those layers of sediment are once more uncovered.