Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Imagine being a fossil: touring the world's great museums, inspiring awe in onlookers of all ages, posing for hordes of fawning photographers. Sound like something you'd like? Well, good luck! At least 99.9% of creatures that have ever lived aren't preserved in the fossil record. But forget about them, everyone else will, and listen up! If you want your corpse in the exclusive 0.01% Club, the Hall of Preserved Fossil Fame, it will not be easy. You better work! Step one: die. It's a cold, hard fact of fossilization. Everything paleontologists find was once alive and, at some point, died. We'll skip the details and assume you had a long, fulfilling life so we can get to what is really important -- how you die. There are many ways to become a fossil, so let's highlight your top death options. You could get yourself trapped in tree sap, which, when hardens, turns into amber and can survive intact for millions of years. But unless you find a really big tree to sit under, amber preservation will likely remain the domain of insects and other very small animals. Generally, the right place to be if you want to end up a fossil is wherever sediment is actively being deposited, like a lake or an ocean floor. A mountaintop or prairie? Not good! You need to get buried, the faster the better, because the longer you hang around on the surface, the more likely you'll get eaten, scavenged, or otherwise destroyed before ever having a chance to get preserved. If you can get buried someplace with little to no oxygen, like a bog or a deep lake bottom, even better. That lack of oxygen will slow down your decay and give you more time to fossilize. So, let's say you're lucky enough to die and get buried in a shallow sea under muddy, sandy sediments. What's your next move? One option is a process called permineralization. While all your soft parts decay away, your bones get saturated with mineral-rich waters. Bit by bit, microscopic crystals precipitate out of these waters to fill in the empty spaces and pores in your bones. Otherwise, you'd better hope the sediments around you harden while your bones decay away and another sediment or mineral fills in the spaces your bones leave behind, creating a perfect cast of your skeleton. Over time, the sediments around your fossil will lithify or turn into rock. But you're not in the clear yet! Many things could happen to those sedimentary rocks that might destroy your chances of getting discovered. They could get uplifted into a mountain range and eroded away or carried along in an oceanic plate and subducted back into the Earth's mantle, melting your fossil into hot mush. Fingers crossed your rock surroundings will get gently lifted up by plate tectonics, sea levels will change, and you'll end up under dry land close to the surface, but not so close that erosion from wind and rain wipes you away before someone can come find you. The last step in this long process, an intrepid paleontologist has to come find you. Maybe she's a research scientist scouting for fossils your age and type or just an amateur collector hoping for a fortuitous find. She whacks away at layers of rock above you or spots your fossil exposed in a creek bank after a flood. And there you are, a magnificent scientific discovery, millions of years in the making! She and her colleagues gently extract you from the surrounding sediment, measure and photograph all the bits and pieces they find, and begin the complex task of reconstructing how and when you lived based on the evidence they find in your bones. Paleontologists will be some of your biggest fans along with all those admiring crowds at the museum. You made it! You spent years underground in obscurity, shedding blood, sweat, tears, and your internal organs. You worked yourself to the bone until your bones disintegrated and were replaced by minerals and sediments. But it was all worth it because you're a famous fossil! Now, you better hold that pose!