What Is a Frozen Fossil?

••• Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images

Fossilization is normally a lengthy process during which only the hard parts of plants and animals survive. However, in certain parts of the world, where the temperature has remained extremely low for millions of years, so-called “frozen fossils”--entire animals complete with skin, hair and soft body tissues--are found from time to time.


Frozen fossils are only formed in special circumstances, so they are rare and usually date back to the Ice Age, but no further. Frozen fossils usually occur when an animal becomes trapped in some way--in mud, tar, a crevasse or a pit--and the temperature drops rapidly, effectively “flash freezing” the animal.

Types of Frozen Fossil

The most famous fossils have been woolly mammoths and woolly rhinoceros. In Antarctica, giant penguins, over 6 feet high, have been discovered frozen in the pack ice.

Scientific Importance

Frozen fossils can provide scientists with detailed information about the plants and animals that once inhabited the earth. They can also give clues to how the continents of the earth have moved, or “drifted”, over millions of years. In Antarctica, where there are now no trees, frozen fossils of tree trunks 3 feet across have been discovered.

Related Articles

List Some Ways That Fossils Can Be Preserved
The Three Main Types of Fossils
Why Do Scientists Study Fossils?
What Is a Preserved-Remains Fossil and How Are They...
What Is a Body Fossil?
What Is Fossil Correlation?
What Information Can Scientists Get From Fossils?
The Rock Most Likely to Contain Fossils
What Continents Are in the Tundra?
How Are Fossils Used in Science?
The Four Types of Fossils
Fossil Facts for Children
Alaskan Tundra Facts
What Is an Imprint Fossil?
What Percent of the Earth is Covered by the Lithosphere?
Fossils That Are Most Useful for Correlation
What Is Ubiquity in Microbiology?
Fast Facts on Biomes in the Tundra
Definition of a Preserved Fossil
10 Facts About Fossils