One thing that still blows my mind about dinosaurs is the massive timeline. Relevant to this question are the time periods:

  • Triassic Period (252.17 to 201.3 million years ago)
  • Cretaceous Period (145 – 66 million years ago)

Triassic-period dinosaur fossils are 50+ million years older than Cretaceous-period dinosaur fossils. I would thus predict a massive difference in fossil quality. However, I'm unsure because perhaps any fossil that's able to last say 1 million years can just as easily last say 100 million years.

Question: Is there a massive drop in quality of Cretaceous vs. Triassic dinosaur fossils?


No, there is no massive difference in fossil quality due to the extra 200 million years or so that the oldest dinosaur fossils have spent in the ground compared to the most recent ones at the end of the Cretaceous. Once fossils are properly fossilised, they remain unchanged unless something happens to the rocks. This could be weathering, which damages or destroys many valuable fossils, including recent ones like hominids, or it could be metamorphism, which damages or destroys them with heat.

I have seen a photo of a one-billion-year-old fossil from the late Precambrian of a marine algae reliably dated by the new Rhenium 187 - Osmium 187 method, and it was in an excellent state of preservation. Likewise with fossils preserved in amber, some of which are tens of millions of years old but look as fresh as if they had only died yesterday.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure what's wrong with this answer. Although this user often writes really bad answers, this one is pretty much correct. Upvoted. $\endgroup$ – Gimelist Feb 24 at 2:33
  • $\begingroup$ For an example of amber fossilisation, see "What features facilitate amber fossilisation" a couple of questions further on. $\endgroup$ – Michael Walsby Feb 24 at 8:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Gimelist Inertia I think. I once upvoted you Michael Walsby in a question by me because I also thougth you were at least partially rigth. But what's your trouble with quoting? Is it difficult to you to use computers? You have not a license on any science database? or you just don't trust in sources? I tell it because we will be posting you that pop-up: needs sources everytime. That atract negatives, then you will say we are cheaters. This needs to stop. You even clarify why you don't source any of your [+200] answers. $\endgroup$ – user18590 Feb 24 at 13:50

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