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Jessica Hawthorn

BIO211 Sept 21st Fossilization & Taphonomy Fossils - remains or signs of ancient organisms - found in sedimentary strata o few exceptions where fossils can survive very low-grade metamorphism - thousands to millions of years old - most fossils are hard parts of organisms o may be completely replaced by minerals - soft tissue can be preserved in exceptional environments - basic requirements: o oxygen-poor environment o low-energy setting o rapid burial in fine-grained sediment - permineralization: infilling of tissue by inorganic materials - impressions: 2D preservation of outlines and surfaces - carbonization: concentrated residue of remaining carbon - molds: 3D negative imprints - Steinkerns: natural casts - ichnofossils (trace fossils): o provide behavioural information about extinct animals o tracks/trackways, trails, burrows, nests o coprolites, regurgitates - amber: fossilized tree resin - fossils provide incomplete, biased view of past life o not all organisms are preserved o not all skeletal material is preserved  scavenging/predation  transport and abrasion  post-burial alteration of rock - not all fossils are exposed at the surface - understanding geology and taphonomy can help recognize and overcome biases What is Taphonomy? - the study of all factors that affect a fossil from the time of death of the organism until its discovery 1. necrolysis: 2. biostratinomy: 3. diagenesis: Organisms not Preserved - factors affecting preservation: o scavenging o depth o salinity o pH o oxygenation o climate (temperature, moisture) o depositional regime – materials and rates o wave or current action  transport, abrasion - the impact of each of these factors is in part determined by the length of time between death and burial Location Location Location - the appropriate conditions must be present for preservation to occur o burial o fine sediments o no or slow decomposition o
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