Jump to main content
Jump to site search

Issue 3, 2015
Previous Article Next Article

The mapping and differentiation of biological and environmental elemental signatures in the fossil remains of a 50 million year old bird

Author affiliations

Abstract

The preservation of fossils reflects the interplay of inorganic and organic chemical processes, which should be clearly differentiated to make interpretations about the biology of extinct organisms. A new coliiformes bird (mouse bird) from the ∼50 million year old Green River Formation (Wyoming, USA) has here been analysed using synchrotron X-ray fluorescence and environmental scanning electron microscopy with an attached X-ray energy dispersive system (ESEM-EDS). The concentration and distribution of 16 elements (Si, P, S, Cl, K, Ca, Ti, Mg, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Br, Ba, Hg) has been mapped for individual points on the sample. S, Cu and Zn map distinctly within visibly preserved feathers and X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS) shows that S and Cu within the feathers are organically bound in a similar manner to modern feathers. The morphological preservation of the feathers, on both macro- and microscopic scales, is variable throughout the fossil and the differences in the lateral microfacies have resulted in a morphological preservation gradient. This study clearly differentiates endogenous organic remains from those representing exogenous overprinted geochemical precipitates and illustrates the chemical complexity of the overall taphonomic process.

Graphical abstract: The mapping and differentiation of biological and environmental elemental signatures in the fossil remains of a 50 million year old bird

Back to tab navigation

Article information


Submitted
31 Oct 2014
Accepted
16 Jan 2015
First published
22 Jan 2015

This article is Open Access

J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2015,30, 627-634
Article type
Paper
Author version available

The mapping and differentiation of biological and environmental elemental signatures in the fossil remains of a 50 million year old bird

V. M. Egerton, R. A. Wogelius, M. A. Norell, N. P. Edwards, W. I. Sellers, U. Bergmann, D. Sokaras, R. Alonso-Mori, K. Ignatyev, A. van Veelen, J. Anné, B. van Dongen, F. Knoll and P. L. Manning, J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2015, 30, 627
DOI: 10.1039/C4JA00395K

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. Material from this article can be used in other publications provided that the correct acknowledgement is given with the reproduced material.

Reproduced material should be attributed as follows:

  • For reproduction of material from NJC:
    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the RSC.
  • For reproduction of material from PCCP:
    [Original citation] - Published by the PCCP Owner Societies.
  • For reproduction of material from PPS:
    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the European Society for Photobiology, the European Photochemistry Association, and RSC.
  • For reproduction of material from all other RSC journals:
    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Information about reproducing material from RSC articles with different licences is available on our Permission Requests page.


Social activity

Search articles by author

Spotlight

Advertisements