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Applied Science

Applied Science

Preservation & Decay - 7th to 8th September

Preservation & Decay - 7th to 8th September


Are you interested in learning about how fossils are formed and preserved?

 This course aims to provide a holistic introduction to the science of taphonomy; how organismal remains decay and enter the archaeological and palaeontological record.

You will be introduced to the core principles of the science, pathways to preservation, destructive processes, investigative approaches and experimental practices all involved in incorporating taphonomic information in forensic, archaeological and palaeontological studies.

The course will be delivered through a series of lectures, workshops and practicals both online and out in the field. There will be discussions and the opportunity to share information, and develop good communication skills.

Learning materials such as articles and videos will be made available online.

  • The principles of taphonomy – decay and pathways to preservation
  • History and current state of the science
  • Taphonomy in deep time
  • Palaeontological considerations
  • Mineralogical preservation
  • Destructive processes
  • Interpreting organismal remains Signals and noise in the fossil record
  • Taphonomy in archaeology
  • Perimortem/postmortem processes
  • Soft vs. Hard part preservation
  • Experimental taphonomy
  • Biases  

You will produce a portfolio of material linked to the aspects of preservation and decay covered throughout the module. This portfolio will include:

  • A short written piece (maximum of 1000 words) explaining taphonomic principles
  • Records of assessments of biological remains and experimental observations

Other supporting evidence gathered from workshops and practicals undertaken across the module

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