Taphonomy (September 3 & 5)

Taphonomy, the science of fossil preservation, is one of my favorite topics in our science. Essentially, it is what happens in the fossilization process “from death to discovery”. Preservation issues are the primary reasons why information is lost in the fossil record, producing a variety of biases in our data. It is important to understand what we are not seeing and why.

One of the most common taphonomic biases in the marine record of invertebrates is the differential dissolution of calcium carbonate skeletons. Review the properties of the common minerals calcite and aragonite. We’ll also discuss terrestrial vertebrate taphonomy.

I will not be able to resist telling you about the taphonomic processes of bioimmuration and bryoimmuration! This will lead to our final discussion of taphonomic engineering.

Geology in the News —

More coprolites in the news! This time it is prehistoric puma poop that is revealing the DNA of parasites — the oldest ever.

Eumelanin (a screening pigment) has been identified in Eocene crane-fly eyes, a first for fossil arthropods. This is a nice evolution/adaptation story made possible by some taphonomic pathway.

How heat waves work. No one is escaping from climate change.