The Effects of Fossilization on Bones – #365papers – 2017 – 37

#365papers for February 6, 2017

Keenan, Engel, Roy, and Bovenkamp-Langlois, 2015, Evaluating the consequences of diagenesis and fossilization on bioapatite lattice structure and composition: Chemical Geology, v. 413, p. 18-27.

What’s it about?

Translating the title into English explains what the paper is about:

When bones and teeth fossilize, their mineral component (bioapatite) changes its crystal shape and size as well as undergoes some chemical changes. How big of a problem is that if you are trying to use the chemistry of the fossil to understand the life and environment of the animal?

Why does it matter?

It matters because we assume that the chemical story we read from the fossilized bones and teeth reflect the animal’s life. But it might not. We need to be sure that the story we we’re reading is what we think it is.

Why did I read this?

I do a lot of work on fossil teeth. Much of this work is dependent upon the process of fossilization to have NOT had a detrimental effect on the chemistry of the teeth. Both teeth and bones are made of bioapatite, a mineral. This paper can help me better understand what could happen with teeth and also potentially provide a way to assess whether or not the teeth I’m studying still preserve the original chemical signature.

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