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Bonebeds through Time

Bonebeds through Time

(p.65) Chapter 2 Bonebeds through Time
Anna K. Behrensmeyer
University of Chicago Press

Bonebeds have attracted great interest for centuries and remain a source of many important specimens that document the history of the vertebrates. Perhaps in part because of the sheer diversity of bonebed types and ages, there has been little previous synthetic work on their taphonomy and importance in paleontology. This chapter provides an overview of bonebeds through time, based on the analysis of a bonebed database derived from publications on the Phanerozoic terrestrial record, and proposes hypotheses for any significant patterning observed in this record. In particular, it explores how bonebed frequency and type correlate with broad climatic and other environmental trends in Phanerozoic history, whether some ecomorphs or taxonomic groups were more susceptible to mass deaths, or whether changes in the bonebed record relate to evolutionary trends in skeletonization, body size, habitat utilization, and bone-ingesting capabilities of vertebrates. Since bonebeds provide a significant portion of the vertebrate fossil record, the chapter also considers how secular changes in taphonomic processes that create bonebeds might affect our view of vertebrate history.

Keywords:   bonebeds, fossil record, vertebrates, taphonomy, Phanerozoic, paleontology, ecomorphs, mass deaths, skeletonization, body size

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