Just out @ Frontiers in Earth Science
Role of Sediment Size and Biostratinomy on the Development of Biofilms in Recent Avian Vertebrate Remains
Joseph E. Peterson, Melissa E. Lenczewski, Steven R. Clawson and Jonathan P. Warnock
Microscopic soft tissues have been identified in fossil vertebrate remains collected from various lithologies. However, the diagenetic mechanisms to preserve such tissues have remained elusive. While previous studies have described infiltration of biofilms in Haversian and Volkmann’s canals, biostratinomic alteration (e.g., trampling), and iron derived from hemoglobin as playing roles in the preservation processes, the influence of sediment texture has not previously been investigated. This study uses a Kolmogorov Smirnov Goodness-of-Fit test to explore the influence of biostratinomic variability and burial media against the infiltration of biofilms in bone samples. Controlled columns of sediment with bone samples were used to simulate burial and subsequent groundwater flow. Sediments used in this study include clay-, silt-, and sand-sized particles modeled after various fluvial facies commonly associated with fossil vertebrates. Extant limb bone samples obtained from Gallus gallus domesticus (Domestic Chicken) buried in clay-rich sediment exhibit heavy biofilm infiltration, while bones buried in sands and silts exhibit moderate levels. Crushed bones exhibit significantly lower biofilm infiltration than whole bone samples. Strong interactions between biostratinomic alteration and sediment size are also identified with respect to biofilm development. Sediments modeling crevasse splay deposits exhibit considerable variability; whole-bone crevasse splay samples exhibit higher frequencies of high-level biofilm infiltration, and crushed-bone samples in modeled crevasse splay deposits display relatively high frequencies of low-level biofilm infiltration. These results suggest that sediment size, depositional setting, and biostratinomic condition play key roles in biofilm infiltration in vertebrate remains, and may influence soft tissue preservation in fossil vertebrates.
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