1979 Edition


  • David R. Lawrence
Reference work entry

The term biostratinomy (originally biostratonomy; Weigelt, 1919) is now defined as the study of the environmental factors that affect organic remains between organisms' death and the final burial of the remains (Müller, 1963). Biostratinomy is thus a very important part of work in taphonomy—the study of the entire postmortem history of organic remains. Studies in present-day settings do provide valuable comparative data for the biostratinomy of fossils; these studies have been given the rather enigmatic name of actuopaleontology (Schäfer, 1962, 1972).

In terms of reconstructing once-living communities of organisms, the most important biostratinomic events involve the dissipation of soft tissue parts, normally by microbial activity. Johnson (1964)reviewed work on the preservability of marine level-bottom invertebrates and concluded that an average of 70% of the individuals and species in these settings lacked resistent hard parts and would normally be lost to the fossil record. Decay...

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  • David R. Lawrence

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