Against the odds

in Fossils

Published in print October 2005 | ISBN: 9780192805041
Published online September 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191776090 | DOI:

Series: Very Short Introductions

Against the odds

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‘Against the odds’ describes the processes and conditions of fossil formation, the study of which is termed taphonomy. Fossils represent a tiny fraction of the diversity of life that has ever lived on earth and each fossil represents only a small portion of the once-living organism — usually only those parts of it that were tough and resistant to decay. Under certain conditions, whole communities of soft-bodied forms may be preserved as in the case of the Cambrian-age Chengjiang and Burgess Shale Lagerstatten. The stages of pre-burial, burial, chemical processes of diagenesis, and lithification are explained as well as trace fossils and the discovery and preparation of fossils for study.

Keywords: Burgess Shale; diagenesis; earth; formation; lithification; trace

Chapter.  5530 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Palaeontology

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