26 Oct 2023


Reading the Bones: An Investigation of Soft Tissue Preservation in Paleogene Fossils


Mr. Brian Kilbestis, Temple University


Until the 1990ís, knowledge of soft tissue structures was limited to methods of indirect preservation. Since then, direct preservation of endogenous soft tissues in fossil bone has been recorded across wide ranges of time, taxa, and space. However, the factors that control the preservation of these tissues remain unknown. This study aims to assess potential controlling factors to attempt to identify possible predictors of soft tissue preservation using fossils of three taxa from the Paleogene White River Group. Factors analyzed include a number of biological and geologic properties and processes. Samples were demineralized to directly assess preservation of endogenous cells and soft tissues and analyzed via x-ray diffraction, with ongoing work in histologic thin sections and bulk geochemistry.