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The study of fossil preservation, including all events during the transition of organisms from the biosphere to the lithosphere.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


Efremov, I. A. Tafonomiia i geologicheskaia letopis’, book 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950. (Tr. Paleontologicheskogo instituta AN SSSR, vol. 24.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Stokes KL, Forbes SL, Tibbett M (2013) Human versus animal: contrasting decomposition dynamics of mammalian analogues in experimental taphonomy. Journal of Forensic Sciences 58, 583-591.
Advances in Forensic Taphonomy: Method, Theory, and Archaeological Perspectives.
Taphonomy and paleoecology of middle Miocene vertebrate assemblages, southern Potwar Plateau, Pakistan.
1996: Tui chub taphonomy and the importance of marsh resources in the western Great Basin of North America.
Zooarchaeology and taphonomy of Aurora Stratum (Gran Dolina, Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain).
Experimental assessment of maize phytolith and starch taphonomy in carbonized cooking residues.
Forensic taphonomy: the postmortem fate of human remains.
Sequence stratigraphy, biostratigraphy, and taphonomy in shallow marine environments, Palaeos, 10, 597-616.
For about 15 years, the first and third authors have been testing the hypothesis that when humans first entered North America, the taphonomy of proboscidean bone changed.
Fish bone chemistry and ultrastructure: implications for taphonomy and stable isotope analysis.