Fossils are history preserved for posterity. They are the links to a past that is as enigmatic as life on earth itself. The study of fossils takes us to a world of pre historic system of life which was perhaps the beginning of the organic systems that we see today.
Fossils can be of animals, plants or any organism. They are preserved on rocks, trees and mineral deposits. The age and size of fossils are as varied as the eco systems; from single cell fossils to the complex structure of dinosaurs; from the ‘young’ generation fossils dating back to some 10,000 years to the billion year old fossil ancestors; from seeds to giant trees; fossils offer a plethora of possibilities of existence of the forms of life well before human beings had been added to the recent stages of evolution about 200,000 years ago.
According to palaeontologists who study the fossils, stromatolites are the oldest fossils formed by rock layers in shallow waters and containing the earliest forms of life on earth, namely the blue-green algae. They were the breath-giving systems; the agents who supplied earth with oxygen for the birth and sustenance of coming generations of organisms.
The discovery of fossils is sometimes quite accidental. For example, the limestone fossils, which had preserved the earliest known bird, were exposed as a result of quarrying. These discoveries led man to ponder why and how fossils formed and what connection they provide with a world that is gone but surely not dead as it still lives through the imprints nature has left.
History has sufficient records of the early scholars who investigated the fossils they found and their assumptions, mostly connected to mythology and local culture. Thus, bones and skulls were sacred and worshipped in many early human settlements; and plant remnants were considered a panacea for incurable diseases.
Collecting fossils for scientific purposes and just for a hobby are two different things. Whereas the former is oriented towards the analysis of biological existence billions of years ago, the latter is more of a fascination for and interest in the relics of the past.
However, both collection processes need a professional approach and thorough understanding of the methods by which fossils are formed and the geological distribution of fossils across the globe.