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Rotting fish help solve mystery of how soft tissue fossils form

Still Waters

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Posted (IP: Staff) ·

New research at the University of Leicester has transformed scientists' understanding of how spectacular fossils with delicate soft tissues form.

While most fossils are "hard" tissues, such as bone, shells or teeth, some rare sites around the world had unique conditions which allowed minerals to fossilize soft parts such skin, muscles and other organs—even the fragile eyeballs of some ancient creatures.

But one aspect of this rare preservation that has troubled scientists is why some internal organs seem to fossilize more commonly that others.


Their findings, published today (Monday) in Palaeontology, show that each organ's specific tissue chemistry governs its likelihood to be replaced by minerals.


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