Difference Between Fossil and Artifact

The Earth is an amazing place and it has consumed a lot of facts in her womb. It tickles our brain and gives us interesting pieces of evidence of its vast history through numerous well-preserved things and animals. The well-preserved history of the Earth can be an artifact or a fossil depending on its nature.

Fossil vs Artifact

The main difference between fossil and artifact is that fossils are those preserved plants and animals that are inside the earth’s womb in a petrified state whereas an artifact is anything that shows the craftsmanship of humans and can have distinguishable features when compared to natural things. The big specimen of dinosaur bone that we see now and then on television or in newspapers is a classic example of a fossil.

Fossil vs Artifact

The dead remains buried under the sediments are called fossils. It may be that of a plant or an animal. When an organism is buried under the ashes of a burning volcano or gets trapped inside the earth due to some earthquake it becomes a fossil. Any dead remains that are more than 10,000 years old can be termed a fossil. Fossils could be those trails left behind by the animals that they used to navigate the land.

Artifact is any form of man-made thing that can be or was used for some purpose. Be it Egyptian pharaoh King Tut’s golden chariot or the pottery from Harapan civilization all are an example of artifacts. Artifacts are the signs of human art and display the glorious art forms that humans excel in.

Comparison Table Between Fossil and Artifact

Parameters of Comparison Fossil Artifact 
Formation Fossils are natural formations.  Artifacts are man-made formations. 
Significance It is significant to paleontology. It is significant to archeology. 
Type of information They give information about the history of the earth. Artifacts only tell us about humans. 
Where they are found Fossils can only be found in sediments of rivers or oceans. It is generally found around the area where civilization exists or existed. 
Examples Bones of dinosaurs in a museum.  Pottery found in Utah. 

What is Fossil?

Fossil can be identified as any organic thing preserved well in the sediments of a river bed or oceans. It so happens that if an organism dies or gets trapped due to some natural calamity and its solid parts remain intact and well preserved it can be crowned as a fossil. The age and significance also matter as it should be able to deliver unique knowledge and should be from a specific age.

Not only the dead animals are categorized as fossils but also the pathways used by them to travel around for food. It gives important information about the world of the organism concerned. Only the skeletal remains of an organism cannot be enough to give proper insight we need information about their surroundings as well. Such fossils give us information about the behavior of the organism.

The study of such fossils gives us information about the evolution and ancient history of the earth. It can be very useful to know about animals that lived here before us as it will provide us insight into the phenomenon that shapes the world. The process that geology uses to preserve organisms can give a great insight into their types and the information used can be utilized for different purposes depending on the need.

What is Artifact?

Any form of a manmade article that can be used in one or another way can be classified as an artifact. Artifacts have a significant role to play in the field of archeology as many objects like pottery, weapons, etc., are found and are technically categorized as artifacts.

Artifacts can be found in different places such as burials, places where a civilization exited, etc. It can be in any form such as weaponry, pottery, ornaments, modified human or animal bones or stones, etc. It can be used to analyze a society that existed or it can help to understand different traditions that people of the time practiced.

Artifacts give an insight into the lives as well as the level of advancement of the people of a particular time. Various methods such as carbon dating, etc., are used to determine the age that the artifact belongs to. Artifacts also give us insight into the behavior and transformation process.

Sometimes artifacts can be confused with some natural formations that may give an idea of being an artifact. The formation is generally called geofact and can be distinguished by examining the natural features of the geography and also other pieces of evidence that relate to human behavior.

Main Differences Between Fossil and Artifact

  1. Fossils are the natural remains of an organism preserved inside the earth whereas artifacts are manmade objects that are preserved in a particular geography.
  2. Fossils are important for the paleontology field whereas an artifact is significant to archeology.
  3. Fossils are found embedded in rock formations whereas an artifact can be found inside of a tomb or any open place.
  4. Fossils give us an insight into the history of the earth whereas artifacts only give us an insight into human life.
  5. Bones found in a fossil are naturally preserved and are not altered by any human whereas a bone artifact is a usable piece craved and transformed by human efforts.


The quest to know about the origin of human beings has led us to various knowledge adventures. It has led to modification and classification of information based on its usage and significance. Such distinction has helped us unfold a plethora of worlds that offer possibilities for knowing our world. Paleontologists and archeologists have given us two different worlds to explore.

The world of fossils gives us the idea of how the earth evolved into what it is today. By studying the well-documented history of the world embedded in rock formation we get the idea of evolution. The study of man-made objects and found in the depth of land or laid outside in open gives us an idea about human behavior and our culture.

Things that help us achieve it are called artifacts. Ideas that give us insight into who we are and what our world is worth exploring and these two ideas give us the exact opportunity.


  1. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev.es.12.110181.001211
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/24926087
  3. https://www.jstor.org/stable/26002050
  4. https://www.bcin.ca/bcin/detail.app?id=22456&wbdisable=true

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