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FOSSIL is a standard protocol for allowing serial communication for telecommunications programs under the DOS operating system. FOSSIL is an acronym for Fido Opus SEAdog Standard Interface Layer. Fido refers to FidoBBS, Opus refers to Opus-CBCS BBS, and SEAdog refers to a Fidonet compatible mailer. The standards document that defines the FOSSIL protocol is maintained by the Fidonet Technical Standards Committee[1].

A "FOSSIL driver" is simply a communications device driver. They exist because in the early days of Fidonet, computer hardware was very diverse and there were no standards on how software was to communicate with the serial interface hardware[2]. Initial development of FidoBBS only worked on a specific type of machine. Before FidoBBS could start spreading, it was seen that a uniform method of communicating with serial interface hardware was needed if the software was going to be used on other machines. This need was also apparent for other communications based software. The FOSSIL specification was born in 1986[3] so as to provide this uniform method. Software using the FOSSIL standard could communicate using the same interrupt functions no matter what hardware it was running on. This enabled the developers to concentrate on the application and not the interface to the hardware.

FOSSIL drivers are specific to the hardware they operate on because each is written to fit specifically to the serial interface hardware of that platform. FOSSIL drivers became more well known with the spread of IBM PC compatible machines. These machines ran some form of DOS (Disk Operating System) and their BIOS provided very poor support for serial communications—so poor that it fell far short of the needs of any non-trivial communications task. Over time, MS-DOS and PC-DOS became the prevalent operating systems and PC compatible hardware became predominant.

Two popular DOS based FOSSIL drivers were X00 and BNU. A popular Windows based FOSSIL driver is NetFoss, which is freeware. SIO is a popular OS/2-based FOSSIL driver.


  1. ^ FSC-0015 — FOSSIL implementation and use, Fidonet Technical Standards Committee
  2. ^ Dr. Dobb's — Interfacing to a FOSSIL Communication Driver, Dr. Dobb's Journal
  3. ^ SysopWorld — The History of FOSSIL Drivers, The Official BBS FAQ

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

A fossil.
See also Fossil, and fóssil



Wikipedia has an article on:






fossil (plural fossils)

  1. The mineralized remains of an animal or plant.
  2. (paleontology) Any preserved evidence of ancient life, including shells, imprints, burrows, coprolites, and organically-produced chemicals.
  3. (linguistics) A fossilized term.
  4. (figuratively) Anything extremely old, extinct, or outdated.

Derived terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

See also


Etymology 1

From Latin fossilis, from fossa (ditch).


fossil (neuter fossilt, definite and plural fossile)

  1. fossil

Etymology 2

From New Latin fossile.


fossil n. (singular definite fossilet, plural indefinite fossiler)

  1. fossil



fossil (not comparable)

  1. fossil

Simple English

Three small ammonite fossils, each approximately 1.5 cm across.

[[File:|thumb|230px|A fossil of a trilobite which lived about 444 million years ago.]]

Lower Proterozoic stromatolites from Bolivia, South America. These were produced by cyanobacteria. Polished vertical slice through rock.

A fossil is the remains or trace of an ancient living thing.[1]

Fossils of animals, plants or protists occur in sedimentary rock.

In a typical fossil, the body form is retained, but the original molecules that made up the body have been replaced by some inorganic material, such as calcium carbonate (CaCO3) or silica (SiO2). The fossil feels like, and is, made of rock. It has been mineralised or petrified (literally, turned into rock).

A fossil may also be an imprint or impression of a living thing remaining in the fossilised mud of a long-gone age.

Some organisms fossilise well, others do not. The most common fossils are those left behind by organisms that produce hard materials. The hard, calcitic shells of molluscs (such as clams and snails) and of now-rare brachiopods (also known as lampshells) are examples. These sea-dwelling shellfish have produced many fossiliferous (that is, fossil-bearing) chalky layers of limestone in the earth.

Soft-bodied organisms can fossilise in special circumstances: the Ediacaran biota is a good example.[2] Some special fossil sites, called Lagerstätten, preserve a wide range of organisms.

The best-known fossils for the general public are those of the giant, prehistoric dinosaurs. The fossilized bones and fossilized tracks of these huge, ancient reptiles can be seen in many museums of natural history and earth science.

The study of fossils by geologists and biologists is known as paleontology. If the study puts living things in their ecological context it is called paleobiology.


Types of fossils

Microscopic or very tiny fossils are called "microfossils"; while larger, macroscopic fossils — such as those of seashells and mammals — are called "macrofossils". Natural stones which look like fossilized organisms, but are not fossils at all, are called "pseudofossils".

Indirect evidence of prehistoric life — such as a worm's trail or an animal's footprint — is known as a trace fossil. Fossilized excrement, faeces or dung is known as a coprolite. Chemical traces of prehistoric organisms is called a chemofossil. Objects made by prehistoric people are called artifacts.

Even when the remains of soft-bodied animals are gone, there may be impressions, molds or carbon traces which remain permanently. So, in special cases, we do have fossils even of small, soft invertebrate animals.

Sometimes a fossil is produced as a result of dryness (dessication), freezing, or pine resin. Mummified animals, ice-covered wooly mammoths, and insect-filled amber are examples of such fossils.

Living fossils, however, are not fossils at all. Instead, they are modern-day organisms which very closely resemble their prehistoric ancestors of many millions of years ago. The ginkgo tree, the coelacanth and the horseshoe crab are good examples.

Early notice taken of fossils

Many pre-scientific peoples noticed fossils, but not all thought they were the remains of living things. Perhaps the first to leave a record of his thought was the Ancient Greek philosopher Xenophanes (about 570BC–470BC).[3]p387 People wrote about his ideas on fossils:

"Shells [are] found in the midst of the land, and on mountains. In the quarries of Syracuse the impressions of a fish and seaweed have been found; on Paros the impression of a bay-leaf in the depth of a stone, and on Malta the flattened shape of sea-creatures [have been found]. These, he says, were formed when everything, long ago, was covered in mud, and the impression dried out in the mud". Guthrie p387

These ideas were rediscovered in the 17th century in Europe. Nicolas Steno in the Netherlands and Robert Hooke at the Royal Society in London both wrote and gave lectures about fossils. In the 18th century fossil-collecting began, and serious thinking on geology began to make progress. In the 19th century geology became a modern science, and fossils played a part in the theory of evolution.

Related pages


  1. Fossil: the remains or impression of a prehistoric plant or animal, usually petrified (turned into stone) while embedded in rock". Concise Oxford Dictionary, 9th ed.
  2. Levin, Harold. 2006. The Earth though time. 8th ed, Wiley N.Y. Chapter 6, p117.
  3. Guthrie W.K.C. 1962. A history of Greek philosophy. vol 1: The earlier presocratics and the pythagoreans. Cambridge.

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