The future of paleontology: taphonomy's role
Plotnick, Roy E.
Walker, Sally E.
PublisherDeath Decay Disintegration: The Newsletter for Research on Taphonomy
MetadataShow full item record
Few fields within paleontology have as high a potential for fruitful interactions with other disciplines as does taphonomy. For example, the processes and results of fossil diagenesis should be of great interest to our colleagues in petroleum and carbonate geochemistry. Soil microbiologists, who have long studied the breakdown of organic materials in leaf litter and soils, should be interested in the geologic history of these processes. Sequence stratigraphers have developed qualitative and quantitative models oriented data could act as a test of these models. Actualistic studies of organism decomposition should be of direct interest to scientists studying pollutants in sediments. Conversations with workers in these and other disciplines have revealed a great deal of interest in the potential implications for their fields of the study of fossil preservation. Numerous discussions at the recent GSA meeting focused on the uncertain future of paleontology as a profession, due to the continuing erosion of the job market for even our brightest young scientists. Although many of the causes of this decline are beyond our control, paleontologists must start to devise ways in which the future of our field can be protected. We suggest that one way is to bring the importance of paleontological data and ideas, such as taphonomy, to the attention of the broader scientific community. Pass around your copy of DDD and see what happens. Even better, give a gift subscription for the holidays! -Roy E. Plotnick and Sally E. Walker