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Distinguishing biology from geology in soft-tissue preservation.
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology.
University of Bristol.
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology.
2014 (English)In: Reading and Writing of the Fossil Record: Preservational Pathways to Exceptional Fossilization / [ed] Marc Laflamme, James D. Schiffbauer, Simon A. F. Darroch, The Paleontological Society , 2014, 275-287 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Knowledge of evolutionary history is based extensively on relatively rare fossils that preserve soft tissues. These fossils record a much greater proportion of anatomy than would be known solely from mineralized remains and provide key data for testing evolutionary hypotheses in deep time. Ironically, however, exceptionally preserved fossils are often among the most contentious because they are difficult to interpret. This is because their morphology has invariably been affected by the processes of decay and diagenesis, meaning that it is often difficult to distinguish preserved biology from artifacts introduced by these processes. Here we describe how a range of analytical techniques can be used to tease apart mineralization that preserves biological structures from unrelated geological mineralization phases. This approach involves using a series of X-ray, ion, electron and laser beam techniques to characterize the texture and chemistry of the different phases so that they can be differentiated in material that is difficult to interpret. This approach is demonstrated using a case study of its application to the study of fossils from the Ediacaran Doushantuo Biota.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
The Paleontological Society , 2014. 275-287 p.
, The Paleontological Society Papers, ISSN 1089-3326 ; 20
Keyword [en]
Taphonomy, Diagenesis, Soft-tissue pres
National Category
Geology Evolutionary Biology
Research subject
Ecosystems and species history
URN: urn:nbn:se:nrm:diva-858OAI: diva2:763055
NERC - the Natural Environment Research CouncilDanish National Research FoundationSwedish Research Council
Available from: 2014-11-13 Created: 2014-11-13 Last updated: 2014-11-13

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