Microbes in fossilization processes
problem how a corpse becomes a fossil is still unresolved. Nearly all
conditions, either oxic or anoxic, lead to fast decay of animal tissue.
However, perfectly preserved fossils, buried in sediments, are indicative for
rapid suppression of microbial growth. Forensic scientists know a phenomenon
conserving drowned corpses for many years – the formation of adipocere (“grave
wax“) after saponification of body fat. The resulting calcium and magnesium
stearates are difficult to degrade by further microbial attack and may induce formation
of fossilizing minerals. We are interested in microbial acivity initiating
Figure. Tiny mineral precipitates on surfaces of bacterial cells (upper left image) may end up as large calcium carbonate concretions with inside preserved fossils.
et al., 2014 Geobiology 12: 406-423. Dreier
et al., 2012 FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 81: 480-493.