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Teaching Documents about Taphonomy
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Virtual Field Trips
! Special Topics of Plant Taphonomy@
! Abscission and Tissue Separation in Fossil and Extant Plants@
! Taphonomy in General@
Abscission and Tissue Separation in Fossil and Extant Plants@
Permineralized Plants and Petrified Forests@
Alexa (Alexa Internet, Inc.,
an Amazon.com Company).
Alexa is a Web Information Company, perhaps best known for the Alexa Rank,
the website ranking system which tracks over 30 million websites worldwide.
top ranked sites in category "Science".
P.A. Allison and D.J. Bottjer (eds.), 2011:
Taphonomy Process and Bias Through Time. Book announcement (Springer), updated second edition.
! See also here (in PDF, slow download).
! Nan Crystal Arens, C. Strömberg and A. Thompson, Department of Integrative Biology, and Paleobotany Section, Museum of Paleontology (UCMP), University of California at Berkeley: Virtual Paleobotany, Lab. III, Conditions Required for Plant Fossil Preservation.
A.K. Behrensmeyer (1992; Google books): Terrestrial ecosystems through time. Read "Taphonomy", page 4.
A.K. Behrensmeyer et al. (2000):
Taphonomy and Paleobiology.
In PDF, Paleobiology, 26: 103-147.
See also here.
Note figure 6: Intrinsic and extrinsic changes with the potential for major effects on taphonomic processes and organic preservation over geologic time.
J.B. Bennington et al. (2009): Critical issues of scale in paleoecology. PDF file, Palaios, 24: 1-4.
M.J. Benton and D.A.T. Harper:
to Paleobiology and the Fossil Record.
! Companion Website: Introduction to Paleobiology and the Fossil Record. On this website you can download the figures in jpeg format at standard resolution (96 dpi) for viewing on screen and at a higher resolution (300 dpi) for downloading. They can also be downloaded as a Powerpoint file for each chapter.
! See also here (in PDF).
For better navigation note the table of contents (in PDF).
University of California, Berkeley: Biology 1B - Lecture 24: Taphonomy & Paleontology. Videos, Youtube. See also here.
D.J. Bottjer (2016):
past, present, and future. (John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.). See also
Please note chapter "Taphonomy", start on PDF page 39.
Jamie Boyer, The New York Botanical Garden:
The Paleoplant Website.
An educational resource for students and teachers studying Earth's history, fossils, and evolution.
What is Paleobotany?
Scroll down to: ! "Types of Fossilization".
Suzanne Bowie, The palaeofiles, Dept. of Earth Sciences University of Bristol: Experimental taphonomy.
C.E. Brett and J.R. Thomka (2013):
and Fossilisation. In PDf. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester.
Note figure 2: Aspects of orientation of skeletal materials.
Biostratinomic processes affect potential fossil remains between death and final burial, including decay of organic parts, disarticulation, fragmentation, abrasion, bioerosion and dissolution. Fossil diagenesis constitutes processes that affect organic remains subsequent to burial such as dissolution, compaction and early and late mineralisation. Taphonomy reveals biases of the fossil record and also provides insights into depositional rates and processes.
Derek Briggs, University of Bristol: The role of biofilms in the fossilization of non-biomineralized tissues (now via wayback archive).J.J. Collins and K. Lindstrom, University of California Museum of Paleontology: Getting Into the Fossil Record. Easy to understand websites.
! Derek Briggs and Peter Crowther (eds.), Earth Pages, Blackwell Publishing:
(PDF files). Snapshot now taken by the Internet Archive´s Wayback Machine.
Series of concise articles from over 150 leading authorities from around the world.
Navigate from the content file.
There are no restrictions on downloading this material. Excellent!
Worth checking out:
Part 1. Major Events in the History of Life, Pages 1-92.
Part 2. The Evolutionary Process and the Fossil Record, Pages 93-210.
Part 3. Taphonomy, Pages 211-304.
Part 4. Palaeoecology, Pages 305-414.
Part 5. Taxonomy, Phylogeny and Biostratigraphy, Pages 415-490.
Produced by MSc Palaeobiology Students, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol: Fossil Lagerstätten. A catalogue of sites of exceptional fossil preservation.
! G.C. Cadeé (1991): The history of taphonomy. PDF file. In: Donovan, S.K. (ed.), The Processes of Fossilization. Belhaven Press, London, pp. 3 –21.
Cengage Learning (a provider of innovative teaching, learning and research solutions for the academic, professional and library markets worldwide): Taphonomy, Experimental Archaeology, and Ethnoarchaeology. Powerpoint presentation.Rick Cheel, Department of Earth Sciences, Brock University: Fossils. Powerpoint presentation.
Chris (?), Peripatus Home Page, New Zealand:
This expired link is available through the Internet Archive´s Wayback Machine.
Richard Cowen, Department of Geology, University of California, Davis, CA:
History of Life, Third Edition.
Go to: Preservation and Bias in the Fossil Record.
These expired links are now available through the Internet Archive´s Wayback Machine.
Digital Atlas of Ancient Life (DAoAL),
managed by the Paleontological Research Institution, Ithaca, New York.
The goal of the Digital Atlas of Ancient Life project is to provide a free resource to help individuals identify and better understand fossil species from particular regions and time intervals.
Note the resources for teachers: Classroom lesson plans, activities, and associated materials that relate to either the Neogene or Ordovician Atlas. All of these resources may be freely accessed and downloaded here.
Digital Encyclopedia of Ancient Life (DEAL),
part of the Digital Atlas of Ancient Life project by
the Paleontological Research Institution, Ithaca, New York:
This is an online, open-access textbook, currently under development.
The goal of DEAL is to produce a comprehensive paleontological textbook with
coverage of all major groups of organisms, including plants.
! Note the chapter on Embryophytes, by E.J. Hermsen. The pages covering general botanical subjects such as vascular plant structure, leaf structure and evolution, and plant life cycles.
M. Domínguez-Rodrigo et al. (2011): How Can Taphonomy Be Defined in the XXI Century? In PDF, Journal of Taphonomy, 9: 1-13.
C. Christian Emig, Marseille:
The transition of organisms from the biosphere to
the lithosphere. Go to:
See also here (PDF file, in French).
Neal L. Evenhuis, Department of Natural Sciences, Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii: Fossil Diptera Catalog, TAPHONOMY.
Karl W. Flessa, Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson: Paleontology. Lecture notes. Provided by the Internet Archive´s Wayback Machine. Go to: Taphonomy and preservation, Fossilization, taphonomy & traces. Explained in a nutshell.
Deborah Freile, New Jersey City University: Historical Geology. Go to: Fossilisation. Powerpoint presentation.
R.A. Gastaldo and T.M. Demko (2011):
relationship between continental landscape evolution and the plant-fossil record: long term
hydrologic controls on preservation. In PDF,
See also here.
! Robert A. Gastaldo, Department of Geology, Colby College, Waterville, Maine: A Brief Introduction to Taphonomy. See also: Plant Taphonomy.
C.T. Gee, V.E. McCoy, P.M. Sander (eds., 2021).
Understanding the Material Nature of Ancient Plants and Animals.
P. Gerrienne et al. (2022):
Evidence of Land Plants in Brazil.
In PDF, In: Iannuzzi, R., Rößler, R., Kunzmann, L. (eds.): Brazilian Paleofloras. Springer.
See also here.
! Worth checking out: "Taphonomy of the Early Taphofloras from the Paraná Basin" (starting on PDF page 18).
D.R. Greenwood (1991):
Taphonomy of Plant Macrofossils. PDF file,
chapter 7, pp. 141-169;
In: Donovan, S.K. (Ed.) The Processes of Fossilization. Belhaven Press, London, 303 pp.
Worth checking out: Book review (by M. Romano).
D. Hauptvogel and J. Sisson:
Story of Earth: An Observational Guide.
A Manual for Historical Geology. A downloadable book! Worth checking out:
Chapter 6: Fossil Preservation.
Thomas R. Holtz and John W. Merck, Department of Geology,
University of Maryland:
Invertebrate Paleontology -
Principles of Paleontology.
Lecture notes. Go to:
Snapshots provided by the Internet Archive´s Wayback Machine.
Hobart & Wm Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY:
! Fossils and Their Preservation. See also here.
Trey Kieckhefer: What Is Taphonomy? Powerpoint presentation.
! S.M. Kidwell and S.M. Holland (2002): The Quality of the Fossil Record: Implications for Evolutionary Analyses. PDF file, Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 33: 561-588. See also here.
V.A. Krassilov (2003):
palaeoecology and global change.
PDF file (35.6 MB), Russian Academic Monographs No. 1, 464 p., (Pensoft), Sophia.
Worth checking out: "Taphonomy" starting on PDF page 18.
Bruce S. Lieberman and Roger Kaesler (2010):
Evolution and the Fossil Record. Book announcement (Wiley-Blackwell),
including table of contents.
The history of life and the patterns and processes of evolution are especially emphasized, as are the interconnections between our planet, its climate system, and its varied life forms. The book does not just describe the history of life, but uses actual examples from life’s history to illustrate important concepts and theories.
! Available in PDF from here. See especially:
! PDF page 38: "Taphonomy."
PDF page 74: "Introduction to Evolution."
PDF page 123: "Extinctions: The Legacy of the Fossil Record."
PDF page 137: "The Permo-Triassic Mass Extinction—Causes and Consequences."
PDF page 227: "Life, Climate, and Geology."
PDF page 236: "Life Influencing Geology: the Form and Shape of Rivers and the Rocks they Leave Behind."
PDF page 242: "Plants, Oxygen, and Coal: More Examples of Life Affecting the Atmosphere and Geology."
R.L. Lyman (2010):
Taphonomy Is, What it Isn´t,
and Why Taphonomists Should Care
about the Difference. In PDF,
Journal of Taphonomy, 8.
See also here.
R.E. Martin (1999): Taphonomy: A Process Approach (provided by Google Books). Cambridge Paleobiology Series, Cambridge University Press.
R.C. Martindale and A.M. Weiss (2020): “Taphonomy: Dead and fossilized”: A new board game designed to teach college undergraduate students about the process of fossilization. In PDF, Journal of Geoscience Education, 68: 265-285.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory,
to understand lecture notes.
Snapshot provided by the Internet Archive´s Wayback Machine.
See especially: Fossils. Powerpoint presentation.
L.A. Parry et al. (2018):
Fossils Are Not Simply Rotten Carcasses –
Toward a Holistic Understanding of Exceptional Fossil
Exceptional Fossil Preservation Is Complex and Involves the Interplay of Numerous Biological and
Abstract, BioEssays, 40: 1700167. See also here (in PDF).
Note figure 1: The long journey from live organism to fossil. "... soft-bodied fossils have passed through numerous filters prior to discovery that remove, modify, or preserve anatomical characters. ..."
"... Although laboratory decay experiments reveal important aspects of fossilization, applying the results directly to the interpretation of exceptionally preserved fossils may overlook the impact of other key processes that remove or preserve morphological information".
Sue Rigby, Geology, Geophysics, Environmental Geoscience,
Grant Institute, University of Edinburgh:
! Fossilization. Powerpoint presentation.
Paleontology in the 21st Century. On the Cutting Edge - Professional
Development for Geoscience Faculty; Go to:
! Michael Savarese, Florida Gulf Coast University: The Fidelity of the Fossil Record: Using Preservational Characteristics of Fossils within an Assemblage to Interpret the Relative State of Spatial and Temporal Fidelity. About the concept of temporal and spatial fidelity, the different types of fossil assemblages, and how the taphonomic characteristics of an assemblage can be used to assess the relative state of fidelity. See especially: Fossil Assemblage Characteristics, and Mechanism Caused Exceptional Preservation (PowerPoint Presentations).
Roy Shepherd, Discovery Fossils, UK: What is a fossil? Easy to understand introduction.
J.D. Schiffbauer and M. LaFlamme (2012):
through time: A collection of exceptional preservational
pathway from the terminal Neoproterozoic through today. In PDF,
See also here.
J.W. Schopf (1999), article starts on PDF page 105: Fossils and Pseudofossils: Lessons from the Hunt for Early Life on Earth. In PDF; In: Proceedings of the Workshop on Size Limits of Very Small Organisms, Space Studies Board, National Research Council, National Academies Press, Washington, DC. See also here.
! A. Scott and M. Collinson (1983): Investigating fossil plant beds. Part 2: Methods of palaeoenvironmental analysis and modelling and suggestions for experimental work. In PDF, Geology Teaching, 8. !Excellent!
A. Scott and M. Collinson (1982). Starting on PDF page 06:
fossil plant beds.
Part 1: The origin of fossil plants
and their sediments.
Geology Teaching, 7.
Space Studies Board,
National Research Council, Washington, DC:
The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research
Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of
Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine.
Size Limits of Very Small Microorganisms.
Proceedings of a workshop, debating the question of minimal microbial size. Go to: J. William Schopf,
Fossils and Pseudofossils: Lessons from the
Hunt for Early Life on Earth, or:
J. Farmer (1999): Articel starts on page 94, PDF page 110: Taphonomic Modes in Microbial Fossilization. In PDF; In: Proceedings of the Workshop on Size Limits of Very Small Organisms, Space Studies Board, National Research Council, National Academies Press, Washington, DC.
Snapshot taken by the Internet Archive´s Wayback Machine.
Jessica Spratt, The Hooper Virtual Natural History Museum, Department of Earth Sciences, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario: Vertebrate Taphonomy.
S. Aaron Spriggs, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO: Taphonomy: Death Is A Sure Bet, Fossilization Is A Long Shot. Provided by the Internet Archive´s Wayback Machine.
D.C. Steart (2003):
Fate of Leaves in South Eastern
Australian Terrestrial and Aquatic
Implications for taphonomic bias in the
Tertiary macrofossil record. In PDF,
Thesis, Victoria University.
See also here.
! Note figure 1.5 (PDF page 64): Generalised diagram outlining the fate of aerial canopy parts in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
Roger M. Wells Jr., College at Cortland, State University of New York:
Invertebrate Paleontology Tutorial,
Still available via Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Taphonomy.
Ewan Wolff, Montana State University Geoscience Education Web Development Team:
Still available through the Internet Archive´s Wayback Machine.
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