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Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of insect and plant fossils in the lacustrine shales of the Eocene Florissant Formation of Florissant, Colorado, was used to investigate the mechanisms of fossil preservation. The fossiliferous Florissant “paper shales” are composed of thin laminae of diatomite that form couplets with alternating smectitic clay laminae. The millimeter-scale sedimentary couplets may preserve an episodic record of sedimentation and are interbedded with less frequent, coarser volcaniclastic layers. The insect and plant fossils are associated with biofilms of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) secreted by diatoms. The preserved organisms are entangled in the diatom aggregates coated with the EPS...

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