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Queen's University
Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering
GEOL 337
Guy M Narbonne

What is a Fossil? -a fossil is any object that provides evidence of prehistoric life (over 6000 years ago) -shells, bones, or other hard parts -mineral placement of bodies or skeletons -biological impressions in rock -tracks, trails and burrows -chemical compounds dianostic of specific groups of life (chemofossil) Why Study Taphonomy? -fossils are selective -some are more easily preserved -some parts of organisms are easier to preserve (skeleton vs soft parts) -some environments preseve fossils better than others (offshore vs beaches) -some environments, skeletons can be moved witihn or between communities -taphonomy controls the fidelity of the local fossil record -understanding taphonomy can provide important environmental information How are Fossils Preserved? A) Unaltered soft parts -no change to organic tissue except the loss of water -three processes: frozen (Pleistocene mammoth), mummified (Eocene wood "Fossil Forest"), conservation trap (baltic amber) B) Altered Soft Parts -soft parts are preserved but has been altered -carbonized body parts, soft tissues replaced by pyrite, soft body impressions -two processes: anoxia/stagnation, rapid burial/obrution -fossil lagerstaten (exquisite preservation of soft tissues) C) Unaltered Hard Parts -original hard parts D) Altered Hard parts -Recrystallization Argonite or HMC CaCO2 orthorhombic -> LMC CaCO3 Hexagonal) Silica -SiO2-H2O > Quartz SiO2 Fine crystal -> coarse crystals -Carbonization of Organic Skeletons heat and pressure drive off the volatiles from organic skeletons leaves a thin film o
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