Sum

Because most dinosaur species are based on so few described specimens, an understanding of how these specimens became preserved (or why their relatives were not V preserved) provides a perspective on the fossil record for dinosaurs that acknowledges its scientific weaknesses in places but its strengths in other areas. Taphonomy provides considerable scientific information about dinosaur paleobiology, and contributes to integrated analyses of the characteristic lithofacies, biofacies, and ichnofacies of sedimentary environments. Taphonomy also examines the biological, chemical, and physical processes that occur from the time a dinosaur died to when it was buried (its necrolysis and biostratinomy), as well as what happened to its remains after it was buried (diagenesis).

Bacterial decay, through both anaerobic and aerobic bacteria, is a largely unseen process that accounts for most cycling of nutrients from dead animals in modern environments. If this same process had not occurred in the Mesozoic, numerous dinosaur carcasses would still impede daily life today. Scavenging, a feeding behavior exhibited by most humans, is also better appreciated through knowledge of all of the potential scavengers that fed on dinosaurs, including insects, crustaceans, reptiles, mammals, birds, and other dinosaurs. Taphonomy places dinosaurs in the context of their original ecosystems or more clearly defines their potential interactions. Understanding how dinosaur bodies or parts of their bodies might have been transported far away from their death sites by stream or ocean currents (as allochthonous deposits) can help define where dinosaurs lived or did not live. Dinosaurs that were apparently buried in place (autochthonous) provide the most desirable situation for working out the paleoecology of dinosaurs.

Knowing how bodies or parts could have been transported and how they were deposited not only provides more information for predicting dinosaur-bearing zones but also gives a good education in the hydrodynamics of water flow in association with sediment parameters (density, size, shape, etc.) and, to a lesser extent, aerodynamics. The dinosaur remains that are seen today were, in most cases, either buried rapidly or placed in an anaerobic environment before being buried. Most often, they were preserved through permineralization. However, replacement, formation of external molds and casts, carbonization, or a combination of these dia-genetic processes also may have preserved their bodily remains. Thus, study of diagenesis requires extensive knowledge of groundwater and its characteristics (such as pH and dissolved elements), and how it could interact biogeochemically with dinosaur remains.

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