Taphonomy pp 1-17 | Cite as

Taphonomy: Bias and Process Through Time

  • Peter A. Allison
  • David J. Bottjer
Part of the Aims & Scope Topics in Geobiology Book Series book series (TGBI, volume 32)


It is now 18 years since the volume “Taphonomy: Releasing the Data Locked in the Fossil Record” was published by Plenum Press as part of the successful “Topics in Geobiology” series. The book was one of several published as the subject blossomed and diversified. The Plenum book was multi-disciplinary and focused on processes, including chapters on emerging concepts such as sequence stratigraphy, and rapidly developing fields such as organic and inorganic geochemistry. In a sense the book functioned as an entry point for those embarking upon interdisciplinary research and was quickly out-of-print. Taphonomic bias is now recognized as a pervasive feature of the fossil record. This is supported by a series of laboratory experiments and field studies during the last 20 years that have provided a sound first order understanding of the processes at work. A pressing concern, however, is how these processes have varied through time in different depositional environments. This second-order understanding is essential if we are to truly fully release the data locked in the fossil record. It is one thing to work with a biased data set and quite another to work with a bias that has changed with time. This new book for the “Topics in Geobiology” series focuses on the extent to which taphonomic bias has changed through time in different environments. The chapters include work from researchers who are using laboratory, field and data-base techniques. It does not provide the answers to these questions but does at least highlight some of the emerging questions.


Fossil Record Mass Extinction Cambrian Explosion Taphonomic Process Exceptional Preservation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth Science and EngineeringImperial CollegeLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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