Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Phosphatisation of Soft Tissue    See Emu Bay Fossils

Lab experiments taking only a few weeks have shown how bacteria can mimic fossilisation processes, converting soft tissue into calcium phosphate. The tissues were replaced by microspheres, less than 1 micrometre in diameter, of calcium phosphate

Fossils have been found where phosphate minerals have replicated soft tissue in remarkable detail. Fish from the old Lower Cretaceous Santana Formation of Brazil have been found in which the gill and muscle tissue and even the cell nuclei of the 120 million year old fish were preserved by phosphate minerals. Even the fishes' stomach contents can be found, phosphatised shrimp eggs have been found in the stomachs of some fish. Only recently it has been realised that this rare form of fossilisation has been achieved by bacteria. Experiments have shown that the phosphate levels in the environment around the carcass don't need to be high, the phosphate from the carcass was sufficient.

From issue 1917 of New Scientist magazine, 19 March 1994, page 17
Journal of the Geological Society, vol 150, p 1035


How Busy Bacteria turn flesh into stone

Sources & Further reading

Mikhail A. Fedonkin, James G. Gehling, Kathleen Grey, Guy M. Narbonne, Patricia Vickers-Rich, The Rise of Animals, Evolution and Diversification of the Kingdom Animalia, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 20
Journey Back Through Time
Experience Australia
Aboriginal Australia
National Parks
Photo Galleries
Site Map
                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading