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The age of the fossil must be determined so it can be compared to other fossil species from the same time period.Understanding the ages of related fossil species helps scientists piece together the evolutionary history of a group of organisms.
Such a preserved specimen is called a "fossil" if it is older than some minimum age, most often the arbitrary date of 10,000 years.
Fossils may also consist of the marks left behind by the organism while it was alive, such as animal tracks or feces (coprolites).
These types of fossil are called trace fossils (or ichnofossils), as opposed to body fossils.
A fossil can be studied to determine what kind of organism it represents, how the organism lived, and how it was preserved.
However, by itself a fossil has little meaning unless it is placed within some context.
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