ta·​phon·​o·​my | \ tə-ˈfä-nə-mē How to pronounce taphonomy (audio) , ta- \

Definition of taphonomy

: the study of the processes (such as burial, decay, and preservation) that affect animal and plant remains as they become fossilized also : the processes themselves

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Other Words from taphonomy

taphonomic \ ˌta-​fə-​ˈnä-​mik How to pronounce taphonomy (audio) \ adjective
taphonomist \ tə-​ˈfä-​nə-​mist How to pronounce taphonomy (audio) , ta-​ \ noun

Examples of taphonomy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Watch a Lizard Decay and a Gecko Catch a Fly The scientific practice of recreating the fossilization process is called taphonomy. Rachael Lallensack, Smithsonian, "Here Are 12 Things You Might Miss in the Smithsonian’s New Fossil Hall," 7 June 2019 The taphonomy of how skin and protofeathers preserve, or do not, is little known, and the positive presence of skin can’t automatically be taken as an indication protofeathers were absent. Brian Switek, Scientific American Blog Network, "Long Live the Fuzzy T. rex," 14 June 2017 Paleoanthropological and paleoecological implications of the taphonomy of a sabertooth’s den Journal of Human Evolution, 29 (6), 515-547 DOI: 10.1006/jhev.1995.1074 MILFORD H. WOLPOFF, JOHN HAWKS, BRIGITTE SENUT, MARTIN PICKFORD, JAMES AHERN (2006). Brian Switek, WIRED, "Toumai and the Sabercats," 20 Jan. 2011

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'taphonomy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of taphonomy

1940, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for taphonomy

Greek taphē burial + English -nomy

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The first known use of taphonomy was in 1940

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Cite this Entry

“Taphonomy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/taphonomy. Accessed 19 Apr. 2021.

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