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Body Fossils and Trace Fossils

Updated Tuesday 24th August 2004

Palaeobiology - we explain the difference between body fossils and trace fossils, and what we can learn from them

Working out behaviour from fossils

Typical fossils, such as shells and bones, are called 'body' fossils because they represent the actual remains of the animal. But there is another type of fossil called 'trace' fossils. Trace fossils include burrows, footprints and bite marks and can therefore be used as indicators of fossil behaviour and are incredibly useful for palaeobiologists.

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A selection of body fossils and trace fossils. Can you identify which are the body fossils and which are the trace fossils?

Answers

A. body fossil, B. trace fossil, C. body fossil, D. body fossil (both the fossil animal in the egg and the egg itself), E. trace fossil, F. trace fossil, G. body fossil.

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