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Scientists have discovered a treasure trove of 250-million-year-old fossils in limestone layer in China. Key quote:
The 50-foot-thick (16 meters) layer of limestone that held these fossils dates back to when south China was a large island just north of the equator with a tropical climate. A smattering of fossil land plants suggest this marine community lived near a conifer forest. The fossils are exceptionally well-preserved, with more than half of them completely intact, including soft tissues. Apparently they were protected across the ages by mats of microbes that rapidly sealed their bodies off from decay after death.