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Taphonomy
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Taphonomy

Taphonomy is the study of the fate of the remains of organisms after they die. Taphonomists study such phenomena as biostratinomy, decomposition, diagenesis, and epibiont encrustation.

The motivation behind the study of taphonomy is to better understand biases present in the fossil record. Fossils are ubiquitous in sedimentary rocks, yet paleontologistss can not draw conclusions about the lives and ecology of the fossilized organisms without knowing about the processes involved in their fossilization. For example, if a fossil assemblage contains more of one type of fossil than another, one can either infer that that organism was present in greater numbers, or that its remains are more resistant to decomposition.

Experimental taphonomy usually consists of exposing the remains of organisms to various altering processes, and then examining the effects of the exposure.

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