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The Taphonomic Process


The challenge of the paleoecological approach is to reconstruct from the fossil register (in T1) the factors and conditions when the death of the individual (in T0) occurred. Our (palaeo)biological (including the taxonomy) and (paleo)ecological knowledge of the fossilised individuals, as well as that of the biocenoses and the bionomy, are of fundamental importance in order to identify all the factors.

In fact, by definition, the taphonomic transition is biospherical.

There remains a major difficulty: how to define the moment at which the dead individual entered the fossil register, which could be interpreted as being different from its entrance into the lithosphere. When individual remains reach the historic layer of a sediment, they can be considered as being within the “lithosphere”, but how may we interpret the thanatocenose remains located near and on the sediment surface.

The taphonomic approach, close to that of forensic medicine, requires an integration of the complementary methods of the Life Sciences and of the Earth Sciences.
This is the originality of taphonomy.
The research of criteria and their analysis have to be made with the same rigor as the police to identify and analyse the causes of the death and environmental conditions in T0


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