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BONUS: $90 AMERICAN AIRLINES Gift Card Opportunity



ces. This process can occur in very small spaces, such as within the cell wall of a plant cell. Small scale permineralization can produce very detailed fossils. For permineralization to occur, the organism must become covered by sediment soon after death, otherwise the remains are destroyed by scavengers or decomposition. The degree to which the remains are decayed when covered determines the later details of the fossil. Some fossils consist only of skeletal remains or teeth; other fossils contain traces of skin, feathers or even soft tissues. This is a form of diagenesis.

Casts and molds

External mold of a bivalve from the Logan Formation, Lower Carboniferous, Ohio
In some cases, the original remains of the organism completely dissolve or are otherwise destroyed. The remaining organism-shaped hole in the rock is called an external mold. If this void is later filled with sediment, the resulting cast resembles what the organism looked like. An endocast, or internal mold, is the result of sediments filling an organism's interior, such as the inside of a bivalve or snail or the hollow of a skull. Endocasts are sometimes termed Steinkerns, especially when bivalves are preserved this way.

Authigenic mineralization
This is a special form of cast and mold formation. If the chemistry is right, the organism (or fragment of organism) can act as a nucleus for the precipitation of minerals such as siderite, resulting in a nodule forming around it. If this happens rapidly before significant decay to the organic tissue, very fine three-dimensional morphological detail can be preserved. Nodules from the Carboniferous Mazon Creek fossil beds of Illinois, USA, are among the best documented examples of such minerali

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