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Re: Fossilization Process
>If anyone can give me info on what happens during the fossilization process
>(conditions needed for fossilization, changes in the composition of the
>bone, chemical processes etc.) it would appreciated.
Many introductory texts on paleontology go into this in greater detail (with
pictures! always an aid in this sort of thing) than I can on the net.
Suffice it to say that, after the corpse (or isolated bone, or tooth, or
whatever) is buried in the sediment (by flood, windstorm, etc.), it is
subjected to many different possible processes. In some cases, the bone is
simply protected form the weather, and remains unaltered. In others, the
bone is chemically altered and the individual mineral grains of the bone are
replaced by minerals in solution in the groundwater. By far the most common
occurrance is permineralization, where the original bone material is not
greatly altered, but the pores of the bone are filled with minerals
deposited out of solution from the ground water.
Again, a good introductory paleo textbook in the library will be a much
better help in this regards!
>Another question is regarding how do paleontologists work out the
>relationships between fossils. For example, How does one determine the
>realtionships between transitional fossils?
Now, is this a loaded question, or what? ;-)
You have come upon one of the most actively debated topics on the net. Many
paleontologists (and more "neontologists") use a technique called
"cladistics" or "phylogenetic systematics", which (boiled down) is the
search for shared derived characters among different organisms. The older
techniques were not much different, but were less rigorous or well codified.
Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Dept. of Geology
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742