Definition of taphonomy in US English:



  • The branch of paleontology that deals with the processes of fossilization.

    • ‘Not all these fossils are in pristine condition, however, as taphonomy has taken its toll.’
    • ‘He provided valuable syntheses on taphonomy and biogeography along with numerous papers detailing new species.’
    • ‘In time, he became fascinated by issues of taphonomy and paleoecology and read extensively on these subjects.’
    • ‘To do so requires a careful look at the many current problems presented by Cambrian fossils, including those stemming from systematics, taphonomy and dating.’
    • ‘I've already praised the dinosaur distribution chapter for its utility, but I was puzzled to see the biogeography chapter separate from it, with intervening chapters on taphonomy and paleoecology.’
    • ‘The sedimentology, taphonomy and palaeoecology of the Dinosaur Park Formation have been studied in detail.’
    • ‘The taphonomy and paleoecology of this giant foraminiferan are briefly evaluated based on comparison with modern examples of Bathysiphon and with other Cretaceous examples from the same region.’
    • ‘One of taphonomy's maxims is that the most common animals at a fossil site and/or the animals whose remains there are the most complete are most likely the ones to have inhabited the area in life.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, particularly for the study trace fossils at the Neoproterozoic-Cambrian, I find it preferable to look for similarities, and to critically evaluate the taphonomy of each morphological feature.’
    • ‘With this information in hand, various aspects of evolution, biogeography, and taphonomy of Ediacaran organisms can now be readdressed.’
    • ‘New field data, however, can be collected to standardized protocols and can therefore provide much more information on composition, abundance, taphonomy, and so on.’
    • ‘In this paper, we examine the taphonomy of a modern avian bone assemblage and test the relationship between ecological data based on avifaunal skeletal remains and known ecological attributes of a living bird community.’
    • ‘Obviously the authors had a unique opportunity to examine the surfaces of large rock slabs to analyze in detail trace-fossil taphonomy.’
    • ‘Those important concepts have helped me to understand better the relationship between ecology and taphonomy, and the fundamental conditions leading to exceptional preservation in the Phanerozoic.’
    • ‘The intrinsic effects of biology and the extrinsic effects of taphonomy, collection, preparation, and observation provide a useful framework for discussion of epibiont preservational biases.’
    • ‘However, differences in sampling and taphonomy preclude taking those results at face value; thus, we discuss methods of standardizing comparisons and calculating species accumulation curves for fossil data.’
    • ‘The history of hexapod disparity, as well as the potential effects of taphonomy on disparity measurement, is deserving of continued study.’
    • ‘Much research on taphonomy emphasizes taphonomic loss, in which the differences between the original living community and the preserved remains are viewed as being detrimental.’
    • ‘A full understanding of the taphonomy of any exceptionally preserved fauna is essential to ensure that the evidence it provides is correctly interpreted.’
    • ‘This rarity may simply be a function of the taphonomy and collection history of the localities where Ansomys has been found, it may also be that it indicates low abundance in the communities from which the fossil assemblages were derived.’


1940s: from Greek taphos ‘grave’ + -nomy.