Molds Casts Compressions and Imprints

After silt or other sediment has buried an object and hardened into rock, the organic material may be slowly washed away by water percolating through the pores of the rock.

Chapter 21

Compression Fossil
Figure 21.26 A compression fossil.

This leaves a space, which may then be filled in with silica deposits. If only a space is left, it is called a mold; if it is filled in with silica, it is called a cast. Artificial casts of plaster or wax compounds may be made from molds of the original objects. When objects such as leaves are buried by layers of sediment, the sheer weight of the overlying material may compress them to as little as 5% of their original thickness. When this occurs, all that is left is a thin film of organic material and an outline showing some surface details. Virtually no preservation of cells or other internal structure takes place. Such fossils are very common and are called compressions (Fig. 21.26). The image of a compression, like the details of a foot or a hand pressed into wet cement, is called an imprint. Coal is a special type of compression, often involving different plant parts that are thought to have been subjected to enormous pressures after the fallen plants slowly accumulated in a swamp.

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Essentials of Human Physiology

Essentials of Human Physiology

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