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Trace Element Geochemistry of Bonebeds

Trace Element Geochemistry of Bonebeds

(p.397) Chapter 7 Trace Element Geochemistry of Bonebeds
Clive Trueman
University of Chicago Press

Fossil bones and teeth are the last physical remains of once-living vertebrates, and the chemistry of these fossils at least in part reflects the biochemistry of the individual. If the mineral phase of bone remains unaltered during diagenesis and fossilization, then the bone will contain a biogenic signal that can be used to infer directly physiological, dietary, and climatic information about the animal and its environment. Geochemical analyses of trace elements are particularly well suited to the study of bonebeds. Trace element analyses can be used to assess the extent of mixing within a bonebed, to determine the origin of reworked bones within a mixed assemblage, and to help distinguish between catastrophic and attritional modes of accumulation. This chapter discusses the trace element geochemistry of bonebeds, focusing on the importance of diagenesis in understanding geochemical taphonomy, the use of rare earth elements in geochemistry, applications of geochemical provenance techniques in the fossil record, reworking of bones, and paleoenvironmental reconstruction.

Keywords:   bonebeds, geochemistry, trace elements, diagenesis, fossilization, provenance, rare earth elements, fossil record, reworking, paleoenvironmental reconstruction

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