How Do the Early Processes of Fossilization Affect the Chemistry of Bones and Teeth? – #365papers – 2017 – 41

#365papers for February 10, 2017

Tutken, Vennemann, and Pfretzschner, 2008, Early diagenesis of bone and tooth apatite in fluvial and marine settings: Constraints from combined oxygen isotope, nitrogen and REE analysis: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 266, p. 254-268.

What’s it about?

This paper discusses how we can determine how altered a geochemical signal in a fossil bone or tooth might be, comparing bones and teeth that fossilized in both freshwater (river) and marine (ocean) environments. The authors used collagen content, nitrogen content, and the abundance of Rare Earth Elements (REEs) to attempt to estimate alteration.

Why does it matter?

We make assumptions about how well preserved fossils are in terms of their chemical content. This shows that alteration occurs quickly, can be extreme, and that the means that we use to estimate alteration are not infallible.

Why did I read this?

Diagenesis, the chemical and physical changes that happen to materials after burial and while being converted to rocks or fossils, can have a profound affect on the geochemistry of fossils. Since my research depends upon a reliable geochemical signal in fossils, understanding what happens during fossilization is super-important. I’m also particularly interested in the incorporation of REEs into fossils, so this paper is doubly interesting.

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