Dictionary of Geotourism

2020 Edition
| Editors: Anze Chen, Young Ng, Erkuang Zhang, Mingzhong Tian

Chemical Fossil

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-2538-0_289

Chemical fossils are the remnants of various organic compounds of palaeobionts preserved in geological strata and fossils. Although these organic compounds are not similar to the body fossils or remains fossils that have definite forms, they can confirm the existence of the palaeobionts; therefore, they were given the name chemical fossils. The residual organic materials that have been detected in strata and fossils include amino acids, fatty acid pigments, porphyrin, phenol, hydrocarbons and polysaccharides. In Precambrian strata, it is extremely difficult to preserve fossils of the remains of biological bodies, but chemical fossils may be preserved. For example, many types of amino acids have been detected in the 3.2-billion-year-old rocks from the Palaeoarchean Era to the Neoarchean Era in South Africa and North America. Chemical fossil assessment is a new field of palaeontology in the domain of molecular analysis, which is important for the exploration of the origin and evolution...

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