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Fossil Find

This is a fossil of a birdlike dinosaur. Scientists studied the fossil to imagine what it looked like. FROM TOP: NATURFOTO HONAL/GETTY IMAGES: LEONELLO CALVETTI—GETTY IMAGES

A fossil is something from a plant or an animal that lived long ago. Fossils are preserved in rock. They help us understand the history of life on Planet Earth.

Above is the fossil of an archaeopteryx. It was a birdlike dinosaur. Its name means “ancient wing.” These creatures lived about 150 million years ago. Some of them were about the size of a blue jay. That’s a common bird. Others were about the size of a big chicken.

Look at the fossil. Can you see the impressions made by feathers? The archaeopteryx had feathers on its wings and tail. Do you see its claws? They were sharp.

The image below the fossil shows what the archaeopteryx might have looked like. Paleontologists were able to figure this out by examining the fossil evidence. But no one knows for sure what the creature looked like. It has long been extinct.