Why is the fossil record an incomplete history of life?

1 Answer
Aug 9, 2015

The fossil record is an incomplete history of life because not everything fossilizes.


For the fossil record to be a complete reference for past life, we'd need to have a record for every organism that ever lived on the planet. Fossils are very rare. Not every organism will turn into a fossil because the process of fossilization requires very specific environmental, geological, and biological conditions.

While we do have fossils of organisms from long ago, such as our human ancestors, dinosaurs, and trilobites, that's a lot of time to cover and there are many organisms we haven't discovered.
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Here's a link to learn more about how fossils form: How do fossils form?