Taphonomic characteristics of fossils on the burgessshale-type spectrum
"Study of exceptional fossil preservation tends to yield exciting results. Since soft-bodied organisms and the soft tissues of biomineralizing organisms are usually not preserved in the fossil record, instances of soft-tissue preservation are of immense value to paleontology and biology. Anatomical details of soft tissues are invaluable for understanding the phylogenetic relationships between organisms, as well as interpreting their life modes. Soft-bodied organisms are not only valuable phylogenetically, but they also are important members of ecological community structure. Without soft-tissue preservation, the interpretation of past environments, ecologies, and evolutionary lineages becomes extremely limited. That soft-tissue preservation is relatively rare is an unfortunate phenomenon that not only decreases the amount of available information, but also imposes biases on our understanding of the past. Soft-bodied organisms represent the vast majority of diversity, but are the minority of diversity in the fossil record. In fact, only about 30% of modern marine benthic macroorganisms contain hard parts suitable for easy preservation (Johnson, 1964) and in the Phyllopod Bed of the Cambrian Burgess Shale, only about 14% of species or 2% of individuals have hard parts (Morris, 1986), and consequently would not be preserved in most fossiliferous deposits." -- Introduction
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