Experiments on the Taphonomy of Amniote Eggs in Marine Environments
Experiments to identify taphonomic variables influencing the fossilization of eggs and eggshells in marine environments were carried out using chicken eggs as models. We examined: (1) the recruitment of eggs into the sea by wave and tidal action; (2) the transport of eggshell fragments by simulated turbidity currents; (3) the capacities of whole eggs to withstand hyperbaric pressures; and (4) the fates of eggs placed on and beneath the benthic surface. Eggs placed along a beach during rising tides were quickly recruited into the sea. Once in the water, fresh eggs rolled along the benthic surface to deeper sites, whereas partially dehydrated eggs floated away from shore. Eggshell fragments transported by simulated turbidity currents settled toward the bottom of the resultant turbidites, with the number and size of fragments decreasing as a function of increasing distance from the source. Fresh eggs lowered in the ocean to a depth of 626 m did not fracture. Most eggs placed at or just beneath the benthic surface in a shallow bay remained unbroken for at least 44 days and became infested with epibionts. Paleontologists interested in fossil eggs should not overlook paleomarine sediments as one likely source of these important trace fossils.
Hayward, James L.; Folsom, Scott D.; Elmendorf, David L.; Tambrini, Alex A.; and Cowles, David L., "Experiments on the Taphonomy of Amniote Eggs in Marine Environments" (1997). Faculty Publications. 2623.