Show Summary Details

p. 515. Against the oddslocked

  • Keith Thomson

Abstract

‘Against the odds’ describes the processes and conditions of fossil formation, the study of which is termed taphonomy. Fossils represent a tiny fraction of the diversity of life that has ever lived on earth and each fossil represents only a small portion of the once-living organism — usually only those parts of it that were tough and resistant to decay. Under certain conditions, whole communities of soft-bodied forms may be preserved as in the case of the Cambrian-age Chengjiang and Burgess Shale Lagerstatten. The stages of pre-burial, burial, chemical processes of diagenesis, and lithification are explained as well as trace fossils and the discovery and preparation of fossils for study.

Access to the complete content on Very Short Introductions online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.