The most incredible fossils ever unearthed
by Yara El-Soueidi
Fossils have fascinated humankind from time immemorial. These preserved remains from a bygone era transport us through time to discover more about the world before our arrival. In this gallery, discover the most amazing fossils in the world.
The most famous ice man, Ötzi, was discovered in 1991 by hikers travelling through the Alps near the border between Italy and Austria. Over 5,000 years old, Ötzi underwent natural mummification, enabling us to learn more about this period in history and this particular man.
Dinosaur giving birth
This 248-million-year-old female Ichthyosaurus was giving birth when she was buried alive. In fact, this very special Chinese fossil shows that she was giving birth to three babies. One was found close to her body, the second half way out of her birth canal, and the third still in her belly!
This fossil, discovered in 1994 in Mongolia, is truly exceptional. Oviraptors were thought to be egg thieves until the discovery of this mother brooding her eggs proved the opposite. Seated in the same position as a brooding hen, she was sadly caught off guard by a landslide.
Destined to spend eternity locked in combat, these two dinosaurs, discovered in Montana by a ranch owner in 2006, are remarkably well-preserved specimens. This remarkable discovery suggests that both specimens died together right in the middle of a fight!
Scotty, the T. Rex
Scotty is the largest dinosaur fossil ever discovered in Canada. At 66 million years old, this fossil documents the death of a Tyrannosaurus rex travelling through Saskatchewan. Weighing almost 9.7 tonnes, Scotty is the largest specimen of his type discovered to date.
This fossil, discovered in Montana and dating from over 46 million years ago, proves that mosquitoes were a nuisance for dinosaurs as well. As these insects are very delicate, it’s impressive that they have managed to stick around for so long!
This Anchiornis fossil proves beyond a shadow of doubt that dinosaurs had feathers. This one in particular reveals how dinosaurs took flight and shows their relationship to birds.
Lucy is an australopithecus skeleton discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. At 3.18 million years old, Lucy is the first nearly complete skeleton discovered.
Complete plesiosaurus skeleton
The Plesiosaurus is a real star of the dinosaur era. This marine reptile is even the creature behind the story of the Loch Ness Monster. The fossil, which dates from the Triassic Period (250 million years ago), is the oldest example of the species ever discovered!
At 39,000 years old, this fossilized female mammoth has one very important characteristic. She is extremely well preserved. The Russian scientists who discovered her were surprised to find blood and muscles on the carcass.
Dinosaur running for his life
This is no ordinary fossil. 111 million years ago, this sauropod was running for his life in an attempt to escape a predator. The only evidence that remains of the chase is the sauropod’s footprints retracing the path of the incident.
This Nothosaurus was discovered in Alberta and is famous for being almost perfectly preserved. Its fossilized skin enables us to clearly see what the dinosaur looked like. Dating back 110 million years, this fossil marked the discovery of a new species.
Sabre-toothed tiger that walked the earth with modern humans!
This 50 000-year-old jaw belongs to a homotherium, better known as the sabre-toothed tiger. This fossil led to the discovery that the species coexisted with modern humans in Europe. It was previously thought that the species had been extinct for over 300 000 years!
Turtles caught in the act!
This is a 47-million-year-old fossil of two turtles that died while mating. Caught up in the heat of the moment, the couple sank into toxic waters from which they never emerged. They fossilized, taken by surprise forevermore.
Snake about to strike
Discovered in India, this 68-million-year-old fossil shows a snake readying itself to feast on a dinosaur hatching from an egg. While the snake was coiled around the egg, ready to devour the hatchling, a landslide buried everything, preserving the scene for all eternity.
Three’s a crowd
In 2009, researchers in Germany discovered an intriguing fossil: a Pterosaur, in full flight, snatching a fish from the water and being caught by a predatory fish. This amazing incident took place 155 million years ago and was preserved for all time when all three of them sank into oxygen-poor waters after the Pterosaur choked on its prey and the predatory fish could not get the Pterosaur out of its mouth due to the hard fibres of the dinosaur’s wings.
Three tooth marks preserved in a fossilized whale bone provide insight into interactions between prehistoric whales and sharks. According to scientists, the shark would have made off with a chunk of the whale, though without managing to kill it.
Leonardo, the Brachylophosaurus
In 2000, a team of scientists discovered the fossil of a dinosaur that was 77 million years old! They named him Leonardo after the graffiti spotted close to the site where he was discovered. This extremely well-preserved fossil still has its skin, making it an incredibly rare find.
Sue is one of the best-preserved and most impressive T. rex fossils ever discovered. Found in 1990 in South Dakota, Sue was the subject of a dispute between Maurice Williams, the owner of the ranch where the fossil was discovered, and Peter Larson, the man who discovered the fossil. She was eventually acquired by the Chicago Natural History Museum, where she is on permanent display.
520-million-year-old nervous system
It may look like a prawn, but this fossil is in fact one of the oldest and best-preserved nervous systems. At 520 million years old, the Chengjiangocaris kunmingensis provides a fascinating insight into how its nervous system worked. This distant ancestor of arthropods sheds light on the evolution of the species.
Discovered in 1927, Peking Man is a specimen of the now-extinct hominid race. A member of the Homo erectus species, he walked the earth between 770,000 and 230,000 years ago. His flat features are especially particular, while his cranial capacity is similar to that of modern humans.
Oldest jaw in the world
Discovered in 1993, this jaw belonged to Homo habilis, a cousin of Homo erectus. This 2.4-million-year-old fossil is the oldest proof of the evolution of the Homo genus and its origin on the African continent.
Petrified wood is a type of fossil found under sediment and protected from decomposition by a lack of oxygen and organisms. If the soil is rich in dissolved solids, various minerals and crystals replace the wood. In the US, the Petrified Forest National Park, is famous for its high concentration of petrified wood.
Ingentia, the dinosaur
Ingentia is a 210-million-year-old dinosaur fossil. It was discovered by Argentinean scientists and casts doubt on when giant dinosaurs walked the Earth, an event previously attributed to the Jurassic Era, 180 million years ago. Ingentia was a herbivore weighing the equivalent of three elephants!