It has been speculated that microbial mats are an important agent in the fossilization of soft tissues, particularly when apatite (Ca5[CO3, PO4]3[OH, F]) is involved. This has been tested by chemical analyses of the Jurassic limestones of Cerin, France, where phosphatized soft tissues are abundant and are associated with unequivocal microbial mats. The sedimentary distribution of P, K, and Fe following deposition was controlled by the presence of the mats. P concentrations in the mats may approach 2.5 times those elsewhere in the sediment. The highest P concentrations correlate with the occurrence of phosphatized soft tissues. This is the first analytical evidence to demonstrate a fundamental role for microbial mats in the preservation of soft-bodied fossils.

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