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Thread: Why do some fossils disintegrate?

  1. #1 Why do some fossils disintegrate? 
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    I found some fossils on the isle of sheppey over a year ago and a few of them have completely disintegrated. They now look like black (with some white) fibres which fall apart if i touch them. Others are still in very good condition. I wonder what is happening to the fossils and why only some are affected. Any ideas?


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  3. #2  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    If you got these on the Isle of Sheppey, then they are almost certainly from the London Clay, which is of Lower Eocene age. These are comparatively young, as fossils go, around 50 million years old. The clay is likely to absorb water which could make your samples unstable. Without actually seeing them, or a photograph, it is difficult to offer a certain answer.

    Are the disintegrating fossils of the same type and the ones remaining intact? Plant fossils are common in the London Clay. The white fibres you refer to could be fragments of leafs or fronds.


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    Forum Radioactive Isotope Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    Being London Clay fossils, I highly suspect that most of them will eventually succumb to "pyrite disease". The only sometimes successful method of preservation on them is to place them into oil. LC fossils are pyritized, being replaced with iron sulfides, and many of the fossils have an unstable crystalline structure which is prone to oxidization.
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