This is a lovely piece of artwork, but as I'm about to argue, perhaps not the best diagram of taphonomic processes:
Figure 9.2 from Hanson (1980), illustrating (among other things) the influence of fluvial processes on the preservation state of animal remains.
That cow looks much too happy... RUN AWAY! Are you BLIND? Are you smiling at the dead calf/deer-thing? You're sick, man.
I know that taphonomy is a complicated subject to try and represent pictorially. It covers a range of different processes (biological and geological), at a range of different scales (including small scale microbial to large scale global weather patterns), at different locations (above ground, below ground, terrestrial vs. aquatic) and so on... but surely that calls for less complicated diagrams, not more complicated?
Cogs and chains and labels oh my!
I think the artistic element of this diagram is a nice touch, albiet a confusing one. And the colour coding of artistic elements (black cogs vs. white cogs), with the addition of labels containing upper and lower case letters along with subscript letters and numbers just makes this figure incredibly difficult to parse. It's fair to mention that this figure was published in a conference proceedings volume, not a scientific journal. But regardless, the unfortunate result is that interesting but complicated reading matter is now made much more complicated.
Hanson, C. B., 1980. Fluvial taphonomic processes: models and experiments IN Behrensmeyer, A. K., Hill, A. P., 1988. Fossils in the Making: Vertebrate Taphonomy and Paleoecology. The University of Chicago Press, USA, pp 156-182.
About the author
Dr Caitlin Syme is a palaeontologist who recently finished her PhD at The University of Queensland, studying the taphonomy (preservation state) of fossil non-avian dinosaurs, crocodiles and fish from the Winton Formation, Queensland, Australia. Think forensic science or CSI for fossils, and you're on the right track!
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