Abstract

Bone marrow in ca. 10 Ma frogs and salamanders from the Miocene of Libros, Spain, represents the first fossilized example of this extremely decay-prone tissue. The bone marrow, preserved in three dimensions as an organic residue, retains the original texture and red and yellow color of hematopoietic and fatty marrow, respectively; moldic osteoclasts and vascular structures are also present. We attribute exceptional preservation of the fossilized bone marrow to cryptic preservation: the bones of the amphibians formed protective microenvironments, and inhibited microbial infiltration. Specimens in which bone marrow is preserved vary in their completeness and articulation and in the extent to which the body outline is preserved as a thin film of organically preserved bacteria. Cryptic preservation of these labile tissues is thus to a large extent independent of, and cannot be predicted by, the taphonomic history of the remainder of the specimen.

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