lecture.1.part.2

lecture.1.part.2 - left behind. A huge mistake made by not...

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Often, we only find fragments of organisms Jaw fragment of a White-tailed deer, Pleistocene, Florida
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How do we get from to ?
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The answer is lies in a science called taphonomy… the study of what happens to organisms after death A fragmentary Coelophysis skeleton from Middletown, CT. ACM 11793c Reconstruction of Coelophysis at Carnegie Museum
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Bones are often scavenged and broken before burial Komodo dragons scavenging a carcass
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Earth processes may destroy organisms Left exposed, bones become brittle and decompose egovamc.com Water will also destroy animals’ hard parts beachhunter.net
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A complete list of taphonomic losses might look like this Taphonomists most often study numbers 2-4. But why even study taphonomy? Because if we understand the steps to the right, we are more likely to be right when we try to interpret an extinct animal from the few parts it
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Unformatted text preview: left behind. A huge mistake made by not understanding taphonomy Often, before the discovery of well-preserved soft-bodied faunas, the diversity of entire ecosystems was vastly underestimated Climactichnites wilsoni , Cambrian, WI Fossil jellyfish Cambrian, WI Another mistake …this one involving trace fossils • Overestimation the biodiversity of a fauna because of not understanding how the consistency of mud affects footprint shape Thin-toed dinosaur print SSM 26617- made by a thin-toed animal? From Gatesy et al. 1999 A lot of thin-toed tracks are made by thick-toed animals in wet mud! Top of slab bottom of slab The fauna of the Connecticut Valley (measured by types of footprint) was overestimated for over 100 years and only now is it becoming better understood....
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This note was uploaded on 04/22/2008 for the course GEOL 111 taught by Professor Getty during the Fall '07 term at UConn.

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lecture.1.part.2 - left behind. A huge mistake made by not...

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