Previous U-Pb dating of fossils has had only limited success because of low uranium content and abundance of common Pb as well as element mobility during late diagenesis. We report the first accurate U-Pb dating of fossilized soft tissue from a Pliocene phosphatized bivalve mold using laser ablation–inductively coupled mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS). The fossilized soft tissue yields a diagenetic U-Pb age of 3.16 ± 0.08 Ma, which is consistent with its late Pliocene stratigraphy and similar to the oldest U-Pb age measured on accompanying shark teeth. Phosphate extraclasts give a distinctly older age of 5.1 ± 1.7 Ma, indicating that they are likely detrital and may have furnished P, promoting phosphatization of the mold. The U-Pb ages reported here along with stratigraphic constraints suggest that diagenesis occurred shortly after the death of the bivalve and that the U-Pb system in the bivalve mold remained closed until the present. Shark teeth collected from the same horizon show variable resetting due to late diagenesis. Data were acquired as line scans in order to exploit the maximum Pb/U variation and were regressed as counts, rather than ratios, in three-dimensional space using a Bayesian statistical method.

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