First Steps

First Steps

Modern science investigates the initial stages of how fossils form

By Sid Perkins, 15:54 PM April 15, 2008

Imagine that during a tour of the paleontology wing of a museum, a group stops to gaze upon a 150-million-year-old fossil of Archaeopteryx, the world's first bird. "Only 10 of these have been discovered since the species was first described in 1861," says the guide. "Amazing," a tourist marvels. "I wonder why there are so few." Simultaneously, a paleontologist standing nearby is thinking, "I wonder why there are any at all."

Archaeopteryx fossils may be rare, but those that scientists have co...

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