Life just got complicated

Wilby, Philip; Carney, John; Wilkinson, Ian; Howe, Michael. 2010 Life just got complicated. Earthwise, 26. 22-23.

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The fossil record of ancient life is, in general, poor. Certainly, fossils are abundant in many rock successions and may reveal remarkable details about evolution and environmental change, but they typically consist of disarticulated or broken skeletal material, such as shells, bones and teeth. Even worse, the record of entirely (or largely) soft-bodied organisms, such as jellyfish and worms, is extremely scant, despite the fact that such animals dominate modern marine environments and presumably did so in the past. The reason is obvious — such organisms are highly susceptible to post-mortem decay and typically decompose more rapidly than the ‘normal’ processes of fossilisation operate. This significantly blurs our view of ancient life, with obvious consequences for those interested in understanding evolution and past ecosystems.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2010 > Climate Change Science
ISSN: X780667289
Date made live: 16 Mar 2012 16:03 +0 (UTC)

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