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Taphonomy

About: Taphonomy is a research topic. Over the lifetime, 1404 publications have been published within this topic receiving 34181 citations.


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Book
01 Aug 1983
TL;DR: The Hunters or the Hunted? is a very important book for paleo-anthropology as discussed by the authors, which presents the first thorough analysis of the Sterkfontein Valley assemblages, contributes significantly to the resolution of lingering controversies and, by placing the old information in a fresh perspective, enables new and more sophisticated questions to be asked not only of the South African material but of similar assembls elsewhere.
Abstract: "Amongst scientists involved [in taphonomy], C. K. Brain stands out as the pioneer; this impressive book is a statement of his investigations. . . . The Hunters or the Hunted? is a very important book for paleoanthropology. It presents the first thorough analysis of the Sterkfontein Valley assemblages, contributes significantly to the resolution of lingering controversies and, by placing the old information in a fresh perspective, enables new and more sophisticated questions to be asked not only of the South African material but of similar assemblages elsewhere. Another contribution is that it reinforces the recent change in feelings as to what constitutes data, for the value of looking at fossil and contemporary bones as closely as this is clear. Brain urges the necessity of recovering fossils with a high regard for subtle detail. I hope excavators of any vertebrate fossil site will be persuaded to follow his advice and pay more attention to these features of bone accumulations that have been previously neglected; for taphonomy can be a powerful tool in elucidating the problems of fossil assemblages, especially when handled with the care and caution that Brain brings to the subject."-Andrew Hill, Nature

1,181 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Taphonomy plays diverse roles in paleobiology, including assessing sample quality relevant to ecologic, biogeographic, and evolutionary questions, diagnosing the roles of various taphonomic agents, processes and circumstances in generating the sedimentary and fossil records, and reconstructing the dynamics of organic recycling over time as a part of Earth history as discussed by the authors.
Abstract: Taphonomy plays diverse roles in paleobiology. These include assessing sample quality relevant to ecologic, biogeographic, and evolutionary questions, diagnosing the roles of various taphonomic agents, processes and circumstances in generating the sedimentary and fossil records, and reconstructing the dynamics of organic recycling over time as a part of Earth history. Major advances over the past 15 years have occurred in understanding (1) the controls on preservation, especially the ecology and biogeochemistry of soft-tissue preservation, and the dominance of bi- ological versus physical agents in the destruction of remains from all major taxonomic groups (plants, invertebrates, vertebrates); (2) scales of spatial and temporal resolution, particularly the relatively minor role of out-of-habitat transport contrasted with the major effects of time-averaging; (3) quantitative compositional fidelity; that is, the degree to which different types of assemblages reflect the species composition and abundance of source faunas and floras; and (4) large-scale var- iations through time in preservational regimes (megabiases), caused by the evolution of new bod- yplans and behavioral capabilities, and by broad-scale changes in climate, tectonics, and geochem- istry of Earth surface systems. Paleobiological questions regarding major trends in biodiversity, major extinctions and recoveries, timing of cladogenesis and rates of evolution, and the role of environmental forcing in evolution all entail issues appropriate for taphonomic analysis, and a wide range of strategies are being developed to minimize the impact of sample incompleteness and bias. These include taphonomically robust metrics of paleontologic patterns, gap analysis, equal- izing samples via rarefaction, inferences about preservation probability, isotaphonomic compari- sons, taphonomic control taxa, and modeling of artificial fossil assemblages based on modern an- alogues. All of this work is yielding a more quantitative assessment of both the positive and neg- ative aspects of paleobiological samples. Comparisons and syntheses of patterns across major groups and over a wider range of temporal and spatial scales present a challenging and exciting agenda for taphonomy in the coming decades.

605 citations


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Performance
Metrics
No. of papers in the topic in previous years
YearPapers
2023234
2022484
202160
202069
201964
201860