taphonomy

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

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.

See More

First Known Use of taphonomy

1940, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for taphonomy

Greek taphē burial + English -nomy

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about taphonomy

Time Traveler for taphonomy

Time Traveler

The first known use of taphonomy was in 1940

See more words from the same year

Statistics for taphonomy

Cite this Entry

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

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Comments on taphonomy

What made you want to look up taphonomy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!