Sediment Effects on the Preservation of Burgess Shale–Type Compression Fossils

Wilson, Lucy A. and Butterfield, Nicholas J. (2014) Sediment Effects on the Preservation of Burgess Shale–Type Compression Fossils. Palaios, 29 (4). pp. 145-154. ISSN 0833-1351 DOI

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Experimental burial of polychaete (Nereis) and crustacean (Crangon) carcasses in kaolinite, calcite, quartz, and montmorillonite demonstrates a marked effect of sediment mineralogy on the stabilization of nonbiomineralized integuments, the first step in producing carbonaceous compression fossils and Burgess Shale–type (BST) preservation. The greatest positive effect was with Nereis buried in kaolinite, and the greatest negative effect was with Nereis buried in montmorillonite, a morphological trend paralleled by levels of preserved protein. Similar but more attenuated effects were observed with Crangon. The complex interplay of original histology and sediment mineralogy controls system pH, oxygen content, and major ion concentrations, all of which are likely to feed back on the preservation potential of particular substrates in particular environments. The particular susceptibility of Nereis to both diagenetically enhanced preservation and diagenetically enhanced decomposition most likely derives from the relative lability of its collagenous cuticle vs. the inherently more recalcitrant cuticle of Crangon. We propose a mechanism of secondary, sediment-induced taphonomic tanning to account for instances of enhanced preservation. In light of the marked effects of sediment mineralogy on fossilization, the Cambrian to Early Ordovician taphonomic window for BST preservation is potentially related to a coincident interval of glauconite-prone seas.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2014AREP; IA68;
Subjects: 04 - Palaeobiology
Divisions: 04 - Palaeobiology
07 - Gold Open Access
Journal or Publication Title: Palaios
Volume: 29
Page Range: pp. 145-154
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2014 22:34
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2014 01:52

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