There were plenty of hominids of the Australopithecus afarensis species at one time, but there’s only one Lucy. There were once many T. rexes, but there’s only one Sue. Have you ever considered the possibility that your own existence might be enshrined in a museum if you were to become a fossil after you die? What are the chances of that happening?
“Pretty minimal,” laughed Mark Norell, the chair of the paleontology department at the American Museum of Natural History. There are things you can do, especially in your last breathing moments, to goose your chances of become a fossil, but, he says, there’s no way to guarantee that your fossilized bones will be discovered in 100,000 years.
“We have a fossil record, and it goes back billions of years, but nevertheless it only represents a miniscule fraction, like point-zero-zero-zero-etcetera percent, of both individuals and species that have ever lived on the planet, because most things just don't preserve,” says Norell. “It's a very rare event to become a fossil.”
But some individual living things did just that. The conditions that favor fossilization and the process of becoming a fossil are explained in depth at Atlas Obscura.
(Image credit: Flickr user Denise Chan)