Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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One of several processes that cause the replacement of organic with inorganic compounds such that the form and sometimes even structural details of an organism are preserved as a fossil; typical replacement materials include silicates, carbonates, and travertines, usually transported by groundwater. Some of the original biological tissue may remain intact, depending upon conditions, so that hard materials (containing calcium, such as tooth enamel) may preserve organic molecules with varying integrity even in very old fossils. In other cases, materials may be replaced through recrystallization. Aka petrifaction, petrified, mineralized.

See taphonomy, fossilization, collagen, diagenesis, and ancient DNA.

Cf. recrystallization, solution, and carbonization.

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