Biodiversity

Friday, May 05, 2006

THE PROCESS OF FOSSILIZATION AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE IN THE INTERPRETATION OF EVOLUTIONARY EVENTS

The process of ''fossilization is the one which occurs when the animal or plant remains are preserved underneath the ground without any disturbance'' (Wikipedia contributors, 2006). The process takes different forms; these forms include carbonization, permineralization, drying, and asphalt, freezing and amber. The final results of fossilization are the fossils. Fossils are either plant or animal remains embedded underneath the ground. These fossils help scientists to analyze and make postdiction about how life started on our planet earth. The analyses are done by using either radiometric dating or geological time scale.

The process of fossilization begins when the plant or animal remains are buried underneath the ground. In order for fossilization to occur naturally without any disturbance such as erosion and washing away by precipitation or floods, the remains are then safe for fossils to occur. As it has already mentioned in the above introductory paragraph that fossilization does occur differently. It may occur through the process of ''permineralization where the plant or animal remains are preserved as a rock'' (Nedin, 1998). Permineralization occur when the remains of either plant or animal become crystallize and then leaving the original appearance of the original remains.

On the other side during ''carbonation, both plants, animals, reptiles and all other aquatic organisms leave carbon when they die'' (Wikipedia contributors, 2006). The carbon which is left provides scientists with the information about the species. The information which can be provided by studying the carbon may be found by using the carbon-dating method. Mostly, fossilization starts when plants, animals and reptiles fall in craves, drown into the river or remained buried underground.

Sand or mud often protects the remains of organisms after the process of decomposition. Therefore after the burial of the remains, the process of fossilization will continue slowly as compared to the immediate death of the organisms. It must also be taken into consideration that the process of fossilization occurs in the absence of oxygen while the remains are already under the ground. The absence of oxygen discourages the bacterial activities which are responsible for the decaying of plant or animal remains.

After the rapid events of death and burial of the plants or animals, the events which follow take thousands to millions of years. Nedin (1998) says that the slow process of fossilization is due to the build up of materials such as sediments over the remains. After the build up of sediments over the remains, the remains may either changed into one of the different types of rocks such as calcite, gypsum and phosphates.

Therefore, in concluding paragraph one can say by studying and analyzing the fossils which are buried underneath the ground scientists can make possible postdiction about the evolution of life on the earth from the primitive periods until today. The piecing together of each fossil whether plant or animal provides the scientists with the linkage of the primitive species and the present species. This is because fossils provide scientists with the information about the history of evolution. The evidence which the fossils can provide can be whether the species were abundant or rare previously as compared as compared to the present.

References:

Nedin, C. 1998. Fossilization. [Online]. Available from:
http://home.tiac.net/~cri/1998/taphonomy.html [24 February 1998, 13: 24]

Wikipedia contributors. Fossilisation [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2006 May 4, 13:36 UCT [cited 2006 May 5]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossilisation

Wikipedia contributors. Fossils [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2006 May 5, 13: 49 UCT [cited 2006 May 6]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossils


Peter Muvhali
CSIR PTA
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Tell no 012 8142133
Fax 012 8423676
E-mail smuvhali@csir.co.za

URL: http://blogsoccer-peter.blogspot.com/

3 Comments:

  • i read somewhere they said it is likely to find fossiled bones of snakes is that true

    By Blogger lethabo, at May 15, 2006 10:38 AM  

  • Hi Lethabo

    Where have you read that? Can you provide us with that proof. Referencing is important

    By Blogger Maleka Evelyn, at May 16, 2006 11:01 AM  

  • Please show references in the text either by surname and date (e.g. Knight 2006) or by a number.
    Carbonation is the dissolving of carbon dioxide in a watery solution. The term you should have used is carbonization.

    By Blogger Gwen, at May 16, 2006 2:33 PM  

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