Fossil

Fossil


Fossils (from Classical rock formations and sedimentary layers (strata) is known as the fossil record.

The study of fossils across geological time, how they were formed, and the evolutionary relationships between taxa (phylogeny) are some of the most important functions of the science of paleontology. Such a preserved specimen is called a "fossil" if it is older than some minimum age, most often the arbitrary date of 10,000 years.[2] Hence, fossils range in age from the youngest at the start of the Holocene Epoch to the oldest, chemical fossils from the Archaean Eon, up to 3.48 billion years old,[3][4][5] or even older, 4.1 billion years old, according to a 2015 study.[6][7] The observation that certain fossils were associated with certain rock strata led early geologists to recognize a geological timescale in the 19th century. The development of radiometric dating techniques in the early 20th century allowed geologists to determine the numerical or "absolute" age of the various strata and thereby the included fossils.

Like animal tracks or feces (coprolites). These types of fossil are called trace fossils (or ichnofossils), as opposed to body fossils. Finally, past life leaves some markers that cannot be seen but can be detected in the form of biochemical signals; these are known as chemofossils or biosignatures.

Contents

  • Fossilization processes 1
    • Permineralization 1.1
    • Casts and molds 1.2
    • Authigenic mineralisation 1.3
    • Replacement and recrystallization 1.4
    • Adpression (compression-impression) 1.5
      • Soft tissue, cell and molecular preservation 1.5.1
    • Carbonization 1.6
    • Bioimmuration 1.7
  • Fossil record 2
    • Estimating dates 2.1
      • Stratigraphy 2.1.1
    • Limitations 2.2
    • Lagerstätten 2.3
    • Stromatolites 2.4
  • Types 3
    • Index 3.1
    • Trace 3.2
    • Transitional 3.3
    • Microfossils 3.4
    • Resin 3.5
    • Derived 3.6
    • Wood 3.7
    • Subfossil 3.8
    • Chemical fossils 3.9
  • Astrobiology 4
  • Pseudofossils 5
  • History of the study of fossils 6
    • Explanations 6.1
    • Before Darwin 6.2
    • Linnaeus and Darwin 6.3
    • Further discoveries 6.4
    • Modern view 6.5
    • Example of modern development 6.6
  • Trading and collecting 7
  • Image gallery 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12

Fossilization processes

The process of fossilization varies according to tissue type and external conditions.

Permineralization

Silicified (replaced with silica) fossils from the Road Canyon Formation (Middle Permian of Texas).

skin, feathers or even soft tissues. This is a form of diagenesis.

Casts and molds

External mold of a bivalve from the Logan Formation, Lower Carboniferous, Ohio

In some cases the original remains of the organism completely dissolve or are otherwise destroyed. The remaining organism-shaped hole in the rock is called an external mold. If this hole is later filled with other minerals, it is a cast. An bivalve or snail or the hollow of a skull.

Authigenic mineralisation

This is a special form of cast and mold formation. If the chemistry is right, the organism (or fragment of organism) can act as a nucleus for the precipitation of minerals such as siderite, resulting in a nodule forming around it. If this happens rapidly before significant decay to the organic tissue, very fine three-dimensional morphological detail can be preserved. Nodules from the Carboniferous Mazon Creek fossil beds of Illinois, USA, are among the best documented examples of such mineralisation.

Replacement and recrystallization

Recrystallized scleractinian coral (aragonite to calcite) from the Jurassic of southern Israel

Replacement occurs when the shell, bone or other tissue is replaced with another mineral. In some cases mineral replacement of the original shell occurs so gradually and at such fine scales that microstructural features are preserved despite the total loss of original material. A shell is said to be recrystallized when the original skeletal compounds are still present but in a different crystal form, as from aragonite to calcite.

Adpression (compression-impression)

  • Fossils on In Our Time at the BBC. (listen now)
  • The Virtual Fossil Museum throughout Time and Evolution
  • Paleoportal, geology and fossils of the United States
  • The Fossil Record, a complete listing of the families, orders, class and phyla found in the fossil record
  • Paleontology at DMOZ
  •  

External links

Further reading

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  7. ^ a b Early edition, published online before print.
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  16. ^ Palmer, T. J., and Wilson, MA (1988) Parasitism of Ordovician bryozoans and the origin of pseudoborings. Palaeontology 31, 939–949
  17. ^ a b Taylor, P. D. (1990) Preservation of soft-bodied and other organisms by bioimmuration: A review. Palaeontology 33, 1–17
  18. ^ Wilson, MA, Palmer, T. J. and Taylor, P. D. (1994) Earliest preservation of soft-bodied fossils by epibiont bioimmuration: Upper Ordovician of Kentucky. Lethaia 27, 269–270
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  24. ^ e.g.
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  27. ^ a b Prothero 2007, pp. 50–53
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  29. ^ Donovan, S. K. and Paul, C. R. C. (eds) 1998: The adequacy of the fossil record, Wiley, New York, 312 pp.
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  42. ^ a b
  43. ^ e.g.
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  46. ^ Derived fossil
    Glossary of Geology"Reworked fossil" in
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  50. ^ Chemical Fossils
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  52. ^ a b
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  58. ^ Earth's History, Paul R. Janke
  59. ^
  60. ^ Georges Cuvier—Fossil discoveries
  61. ^ Darwin, C (1859) On the Origin of Species. Chapter 10: On the Imperfection of the Geological Record.
  62. ^ Schopf JW (1999) Cradle of Life: The Discovery of the Earth's Earliest Fossils, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
  63. ^
  64. ^ Knoll, A, (2003) Life on a Young Planet. (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ)
  65. ^ Paul CRC and Donovan SK, (1998) An overview of the completeness of the fossil record. in The Adequacy of the Fossil Record (Paul CRC and Donovan SK eds). 111–131 (John Wiley, New York).
  66. ^ Fortey, Richard, Trilobite!: Eyewitness to Evolution. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2000.
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References

See also

Image gallery

Fossil collecting (some times, in a non-scientific sense, fossil hunting) is the collection of fossils for scientific study, hobby, or profit. Fossil collecting, as practiced by amateurs, is the predecessor of modern paleontology and many still collect fossils and study fossils as amateurs. Professionals and amateurs alike collect fossils for their scientific value.

Fossil trading is the practice of buying and selling fossils. This is many times done illegally with artifacts stolen from research sites, costing many important scientific specimens each year.[68] The problem is quite pronounced in China, where many specimens have been stolen.[69]

Trading and collecting

Synchrotron X-ray tomographic analysis of early Cambrian bilaterian embryonic microfossils yielded new insights of metazoan evolution at its earliest stages. The tomography technique provides previously unattainable three-dimensional resolution at the limits of fossilization. Fossils of two enigmatic bilaterians, the worm-like Markuelia and a putative, primitive protostome, Pseudooides, provide a peek at germ layer embryonic development. These 543-million-year-old embryos support the emergence of some aspects of arthropod development earlier than previously thought in the late Proterozoic. The preserved embryos from China and Siberia underwent rapid diagenetic phosphatization resulting in exquisite preservation, including cell structures. This research is a notable example of how knowledge encoded by the fossil record continues to contribute otherwise unattainable information on the emergence and development of life on Earth. For example, the research suggests Markuelia has closest affinity to priapulid worms, and is adjacent to the evolutionary branching of Priapulida, Nematoda and Arthropoda.[67]

Example of modern development

Niles Eldredge's study of the Phacops trilobite genus supported the hypothesis that modifications to the arrangement of the trilobite's eye lenses proceeded by fits and starts over millions of years during the Devonian.[66] Eldredge's interpretation of the Phacops fossil record was that the aftermaths of the lens changes, but not the rapidly occurring evolutionary process, were fossilized. This and other data led Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge to publish their seminal paper on punctuated equilibrium in 1971.

Crinoid columnals (Isocrinus nicoleti) from the Middle Jurassic Carmel Formation at Mount Carmel Junction, Utah
Phacopid trilobite Eldredgeops rana crassituberculata, the genus is named after Niles Eldredge

[65] Paleontology has joined with

The fossil record is life's evolutionary epic that unfolded over four billion years as environmental conditions and genetic potential interacted in accordance with natural selection.

The Virtual Fossil Museum[63]

Modern view

Since the early years of the twentieth century, absolute dating methods, such as radiometric dating (including potassium/argon, argon/argon, uranium series, and, for very recent fossils, radiocarbon dating) have been used to verify the relative ages obtained by fossils and to provide absolute ages for many fossils. Radiometric dating has shown that the earliest known stromatolites are over 3.4 billion years old.

The fossil record and faunal succession form the basis of the science of biostratigraphy or determining the age of rocks based on embedded fossils. For the first 150 years of geology, biostratigraphy and superposition were the only means for determining the relative age of rocks. The geologic time scale was developed based on the relative ages of rock strata as determined by the early paleontologists and stratigraphers.

Since Darwin's time, the fossil record has been extended to between 2.3 and 3.5 billion years.[62] Most of these Precambrian fossils are microscopic bacteria or microfossils. However, macroscopic fossils are now known from the late Proterozoic. The Ediacara biota (also called Vendian biota) dating from 575 million years ago collectively constitutes a richly diverse assembly of early multicellular eukaryotes.

Further discoveries

When Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, the oldest animal fossils were those from the Cambrian Period, now known to be about 540 million years old. He worried about the absence of older fossils because of the implications on the validity of his theories, but he expressed hope that such fossils would be found, noting that: "only a small portion of the world is known with accuracy." Darwin also pondered the sudden appearance of many groups (i.e. phyla) in the oldest known Cambrian fossiliferous strata.[61]

Early naturalists well understood the similarities and differences of living species leading Linnaeus to develop a hierarchical classification system still in use today. Darwin and his contemporaries first linked the hierarchical structure of the tree of life with the then very sparse fossil record. Darwin eloquently described a process of descent with modification, or evolution, whereby organisms either adapt to natural and changing environmental pressures, or they perish.

Linnaeus and Darwin

All of these facts, consistent among themselves, and not opposed by any report, seem to me to prove the existence of a world previous to ours, destroyed by some kind of catastrophe.[60]

catastrophism. Near the end of his 1796 paper on living and fossil elephants he said:

William Smith (1769–1839), an English canal engineer, observed that rocks of different ages (based on the law of superposition) preserved different assemblages of fossils, and that these assemblages succeeded one another in a regular and determinable order. He observed that rocks from distant locations could be correlated based on the fossils they contained. He termed this the principle of faunal succession. This principle became one of Darwin's chief pieces of evidence that biological evolution was real.

Cuvier's Discours sur les revolutions de la surface du globe.
And we find oysters together in very large families, among which some may be seen with their shells still joined together, indicating that they were left there by the sea and that they were still living when the strait of Gibraltar was cut through. In the mountains of Parma and Piacenza multitudes of shells and corals with holes may be seen still sticking to the rocks...."[59]
If the Deluge had carried the shells for distances of three and four hundred miles from the sea it would have carried them mixed with various other natural objects all heaped up together; but even at such distances from the sea we see the oysters all together and also the shellfish and the cuttlefish and all the other shells which congregate together, found all together dead; and the solitary shells are found apart from one another as we see them every day on the sea-shores.

More scientific views of fossils emerged during the Renaissance. Leonardo da Vinci concurred with Aristotle's view that fossils were the remains of ancient life.[58] For example, da Vinci noticed discrepancies with the biblical flood narrative as an explanation for fossil origins:

Greek scholar Aristotle realized that fossil seashells from rocks were similar to those found on the beach, indicating the fossils were once living animals. Aristotle previously explained it in terms of vaporous exhalations, which Avicenna modified into the theory of petrifying fluids (succus lapidificatus), later elaborated by Albert of Saxony in the 14th century and accepted in some form by most naturalists by the 16th century.[57]

If what is said concerning the petrifaction of animals and plants is true, the cause of this (phenomenon) is a powerful mineralizing and petrifying virtue which arises in certain stony spots, or emanates suddenly from the earth during earthquake and subsidences, and petrifies whatever comes into contact with it. As a matter of fact, the petrifaction of the bodies of plants and animals is not more extraordinary than the transformation of waters.[56]

In 1027, the Persian Avicenna explained fossils' stoniness in The Book of Healing:

Many early explanations relied on folktales or mythologies. In China the fossil bones of ancient mammals including Homo erectus were often mistaken for "dragon bones" and used as medicine and aphrodisiacs. In the West fossilized sea creatures on mountainsides were seen as proof of the biblical deluge.

Before Darwin

Explanations

Gathering fossils dates at least to the beginning of recorded history. The fossils themselves are referred to as the fossil record. The fossil record was one of the early sources of data underlying the study of evolution and continues to be relevant to the history of life on Earth. Paleontologists examine the fossil record to understand the process of evolution and the way particular species have evolved.

History of the study of fossils

Pseudofossils are visual patterns in rocks that are produced by geologic processes rather than biologic processes. They can easily be mistaken for real fossils. Some pseudofossils, such as dendrites, are formed by naturally occurring fissures in the rock that get filled up by percolating minerals. Other types of pseudofossils are kidney ore (round shapes in iron ore) and moss agates, which look like moss or plant leaves. Concretions, spherical or ovoid-shaped nodules found in some sedimentary strata, were once thought to be dinosaur eggs, and are often mistaken for fossils as well.

An example of a pseudofossil: Manganese dendrites on a limestone bedding plane from Solnhofen, Germany; scale in mm

Pseudofossils

On 24 January 2014, NASA reported that current studies by the Mars is now a primary NASA objective.[52][53]

It has been suggested that biosignatures) that are often associated with biominerals are believed to play crucial roles in both pre-biotic and biotic reactions.[51]

Astrobiology

Chemical fossils are chemicals found in rocks and fossil fuels (petroleum, coal, and natural gas) that provide an organic signature for ancient life. Molecular fossils and isotope ratios represent two types of chemical fossils.[50] The oldest traces of life on Earth are fossils of this type, including carbon isotope anomalies found in zircons that imply the existence of life as early as 4.1 billion years ago.[6][7]

Chemical fossils

Subfossils are often found in depositionary environments, such as lake sediments, oceanic sediments, and soils. Once deposited, physical and chemical weathering can alter the state of preservation.

The term subfossil can be used to refer to remains, such as bones, nests, or defecations, whose radiocarbon dating or extraction and sequencing of DNA, protein, or other biomolecules. Additionally, isotope ratios can provide much information about the ecological conditions under which extinct animals lived. Subfossils are useful for studying the evolutionary history of an environment and can be important to studies in paleoclimatology.

A subfossil dodo skeleton

Subfossil

Fossil wood is wood that is preserved in the fossil record. Wood is usually the part of a plant that is best preserved (and most easily found). Fossil wood may or may not be petrified. The fossil wood may be the only part of the plant that has been preserved:[47] therefore such wood may get a special kind of botanical name. This will usually include "xylon" and a term indicating its presumed affinity, such as Araucarioxylon (wood of Araucaria or some related genus), Palmoxylon (wood of an indeterminate palm), or Castanoxylon (wood of an indeterminate chinkapin).[48]

Polished section of petrified wood showing annual rings.
Petrified wood. The internal structure of the tree and bark are maintained in the permineralization process.

Wood

A derived, reworked or remanié fossil is a fossil found in rock that accumulated significantly later than when the fossilized animal or plant died:[46] Reworked fossils are created by erosion exhuming (freeing) fossils from the rock formation in which they were originally deposited and their redeposition in an younger sedimentary deposit.

Eroded Jurassic plesiosaur vertebral centrum found in the Lower Cretaceous Faringdon Sponge Gravels in Faringdon, England. An example of a remanié fossil.

Derived

Fossil resin (colloquially called amber) is a natural polymer found in many types of strata throughout the world, even the Arctic. The oldest fossil resin dates to the Triassic, though most dates to the Cenozoic. The excretion of the resin by certain plants is thought to be an evolutionary adaptation for protection from insects and to seal wounds. Fossil resin often contains other fossils called inclusions that were captured by the sticky resin. These include bacteria, fungi, other plants, and animals. Animal inclusions are usually small invertebrates, predominantly arthropods such as insects and spiders, and only extremely rarely a vertebrate such as a small lizard. Preservation of inclusions can be exquisite, including small fragments of DNA.

Leptofoenus pittfieldae trapped in Dominican amber, from 20 to 16 million years ago

Resin

Microfossil is a descriptive term applied to fossilized plants and animals whose size is just at or below the level at which the fossil can be analyzed by the naked eye. A commonly applied cutoff point between "micro" and foraminifera and coccolithophores) or component parts (such as small teeth or spores) of larger animals or plants. Microfossils are of critical importance as a reservoir of paleoclimate information, and are also commonly used by biostratigraphers to assist in the correlation of rock units.

Microfossils about 1 mm

Microfossils

A transitional fossil is any fossilized remains of a life form that exhibits traits common to both an ancestral group and its derived descendant group.[45] This is especially important where the descendant group is sharply differentiated by gross anatomy and mode of living from the ancestral group. Because of the incompleteness of the fossil record, there is usually no way to know exactly how close a transitional fossil is to the point of divergence. These fossils serve as a reminder that taxonomic divisions are human constructs that have been imposed in hindsight on a continuum of variation.

Transitional

Coprolites may range in size from a few millimetres to over 60 centimetres. [44] Coprolites are classified as

Trace fossils consist mainly of tracks and burrows, but also include coprolites (fossil feces) and marks left by feeding.[41][42] Trace fossils are particularly significant because they represent a data source that is not limited to animals with easily fossilized hard parts, and they reflect animal behaviours. Many traces date from significantly earlier than the body fossils of animals that are thought to have been capable of making them.[43] Whilst exact assignment of trace fossils to their makers is generally impossible, traces may for example provide the earliest physical evidence of the appearance of moderately complex animals (comparable to earthworms).[42]

A coprolite of a carnivorous dinosaur found in southwestern Saskatchewan.

Trace

Index fossils (also known as guide fossils, indicator fossils or zone fossils) are fossils used to define and identify geologic periods (or faunal stages). They work on the premise that, although different sediments may look different depending on the conditions under which they were deposited, they may include the remains of the same species of fossil. The shorter the species' time range, the more precisely different sediments can be correlated, and so rapidly evolving species' fossils are particularly valuable. The best index fossils are common, easy-to-identify at species level and have a broad distribution—otherwise the likelihood of finding and recognizing one in the two sediments is poor

Examples of index fossils

Index

Types

The Zebra River Canyon area of the Kubis platform in the deeply dissected Zaris Mountains of south western Namibia provides an extremely well exposed example of the thrombolite-stromatolite-metazoan reefs that developed during the Proterozoic period, the stromatolites here being better developed in updip locations under conditions of higher current velocities and greater sediment influx.[40]

While oncolites are similar to stromatolites and are also known from the fossil record. Thrombolites are poorly laminated or non-laminated clotted structures formed by cyanobacteria common in the fossil record and in modern sediments.[32]

The connection between grazer and stromatolite abundance is well documented in the younger Ordovician evolutionary radiation; stromatolite abundance also increased after the end-Ordovician and end-Permian extinctions decimated marine animals, falling back to earlier levels as marine animals recovered.[38] Fluctuations in metazoan population and diversity may not have been the only factor in the reduction in stromatolite abundance. Factors such as the chemistry of the environment may have been responsible for changes.[39]

[37][36][35] which by the start of the Cambrian had fallen to 20% of their peak. The most widely supported explanation is that stromatolite builders fell victims to grazing creatures (the [34] They subsequently declined in abundance and diversity,[33] Stromatolites are a major constituent of the fossil record for life's first 3.5 billion years, peaking about 1.25 billion years ago.

A 2009 discovery provides strong evidence of microbial stromatolites extending as far back as 3.45 billion years ago.[33]

Stromatolites were much more abundant in Precambrian times. While older, Archean fossil remains are presumed to be colonies of cyanobacteria, younger (that is, Proterozoic) fossils may be primordial forms of the eukaryote chlorophytes (that is, green algae). One genus of stromatolite very common in the geologic record is Collenia. The earliest stromatolite of confirmed microbial origin dates to 2.724 billion years ago.[32]

Stromatolites are layered cyanobacteria.[30] Stromatolites provide some of the most ancient fossil records of life on Earth, dating back more than 3.5 billion years ago.[31]

Lower Proterozoic Stromatolites from Bolivia, South America

Stromatolites

Fossil sites with exceptional preservation—sometimes including preserved soft tissues—are known as Lagerstätten. These formations may have resulted from carcass burial in an anoxic environment with minimal bacteria, thus slowing decomposition. Lagerstätten span geological time from the Cambrian period to the present. Worldwide, some of the best examples of near-perfect fossilization are the Cambrian Maotianshan shales and Burgess Shale, the Devonian Hunsrück Slates, the Jurassic Solnhofen limestone, and the Carboniferous Mazon Creek localities.

Lagerstätten

[29].arthropods and some groups of brachiopods, the echinoderms, the vertebrates, the mollusks It is replete with the [27] The fossil record is heavily slanted toward organisms with hard parts, leaving most groups of

Organisms are only rarely preserved as fossils in the best of circumstances, and only a fraction of such fossils have been discovered. This is illustrated by the fact that the number of species known through the fossil record is less than 5% of the number of known living species, suggesting that the number of species known through fossils must be far less than 1% of all the species that have ever lived.[27] Because of the specialized and rare circumstances required for a biological structure to fossilize, only a small percentage of life-forms can be expected to be represented in discoveries, and each discovery represents only a snapshot of the process of evolution. The transition itself can only be illustrated and corroborated by transitional fossils, which will never demonstrate an exact half-way point.[28]

Some of the most remarkable gaps in the fossil record (as of October 2013) show slanting toward organisms with hard parts

Limitations

It is also possible to estimate how long ago two living clades diverged – i.e. approximately how long ago their last common ancestor must have lived  – by assuming that DNA mutations accumulate at a constant rate. These "molecular clocks", however, are fallible, and provide only approximate timing: for example, they are not sufficiently precise and reliable for estimating when the groups that feature in the Cambrian explosion first evolved,[25] and estimates produced by different techniques may vary by a factor of two.[26]

Consequently, palaeontologists rely on stratigraphy to date fossils. Stratigraphy is the science of deciphering the "layer-cake" that is the sedimentary record.[20] Rocks normally form relatively horizontal layers, with each layer younger than the one underneath it. If a fossil is found between two layers whose ages are known, the fossil's age is claimed to lie between the two known ages.[21] Because rock sequences are not continuous, but may be broken up by faults or periods of erosion, it is very difficult to match up rock beds that are not directly adjacent. However, fossils of species that survived for a relatively short time can be used to match isolated rocks: this technique is called biostratigraphy. For instance, the conodont Eoplacognathus pseudoplanus has a short range in the Middle Ordovician period.[22] If rocks of unknown age have traces of E. pseudoplanus, they have a mid-Ordovician age. Such index fossils must be distinctive, be globally distributed and occupy a short time range to be useful. Misleading results are produced if the index fossils are incorrectly dated.[23] Stratigraphy and biostratigraphy can in general provide only relative dating (A was before B), which is often sufficient for studying evolution. However, this is difficult for some time periods, because of the problems involved in matching rocks of the same age across continents.[24] Family-tree relationships also help to narrow down the date when lineages first appeared. For instance, if fossils of B or C date to X million years ago and the calculated "family tree" says A was an ancestor of B and C, then A must have evolved earlier.

Stratigraphy


Paleontology seeks to map out how life evolved across geologic time. A substantial hurdle is the difficulty of working out fossil ages. Beds that preserve fossils typically lack the radioactive elements needed for radiometric dating. This technique is our only means of giving rocks greater than about 50 million years old an absolute age, and can be accurate to within 0.5% or better.[19] Although radiometric dating requires careful laboratory work, its basic principle is simple: the rates at which various radioactive elements decay are known, and so the ratio of the radioactive element to its decay products shows how long ago the radioactive element was incorporated into the rock. Radioactive elements are common only in rocks with a volcanic origin, and so the only fossil-bearing rocks that can be dated radiometrically are volcanic ash layers, which may provide termini for the intervening sediments.[19]

Estimating dates

Fossil record

Bioimmuration occurs when a skeletal organism overgrows or otherwise subsumes another organism, preserving the latter, or an impression of it, within the skeleton.[17] Usually it is a Ordovician[18] to the Recent.[17]

The star-shaped holes (Catellocaula vallata) in this Upper Ordovician bryozoan represent a soft-bodied organism preserved by bioimmuration in the bryozoan skeleton.[16]

Bioimmuration

organic carbon compounds and during diagenesis under reducing conditions only a thin film of carbon residue is left which forms a silhouette of the original organism.

Carbonization

Because of their antiquity, an unexpected exception to the alteration of an organism's tissues by chemical reduction of the complex organic molecules during fossilization has been the discovery of soft tissue in dinosaur fossils, including blood vessels, and the isolation of proteins and evidence for DNA fragments.[10][11][12][13] In 2014, Mary Schweitzer and her colleagues reported the presence of iron particles (goethite-aFeO(OH)) associated with soft tissues recovered from dinosaur fossils. Based on various experiments that studied the interaction of iron in haemoglobin with blood vessel tissue they proposed that solution hypoxia coupled with iron chelation enhances the stability and preservation of soft tissue and provides the basis for an explanation for the unforeseen preservation of fossil soft tissues.[14] However, a slightly older study based on eight taxa ranging in time from the Devonian to the Jurassic found that reasonably well-preserved fibrils that probably represent collagen were preserved in all these fossils, and that the quality of preservation depended mostly on the arrangement of the collagen fibers, with tight packing favoring good preservation.[15] There seemed to be no correlation between geological age and quality of preservation, within that timeframe.

Soft tissue, cell and molecular preservation

[9]