Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.
a branch of paleontology that deals with all processes in the formation of sites of fossil remains of organisms, including thanatocoenosis (the localized accumulation of remains of dead organisms), the movement of dead matter, taphocenosis, and petrifaction (also fossilization), which leads to the formation of oryctocenoses (the totality of petrified remains at a given site).
Taphonomy is significant in reconstructing paleobiocenoses and, from them, biocenoses, as well as the conditions under which the organisms lived and the processes of sediment accumulation in regions where fossil animals and plants are found. Data provided by taphonomy are important in understanding the reasons for the incomplete nature of geological records. The principles of taphonomy were developed between 1940 and 1957 by I. A. Efremov.