When Leonardo da Vinci contended that fossil shells of Monferrato (Lombardy, Italy) were not left there by the biblical deluge, he argued the point by observing that neither live bivalves nor their empty shells possibly could have traveled 250 miles from the Adriatic to Monferrato in 40 days (MacCurdy, 1938; Cadée, 1990). Five centuries later, the approach pioneered by the Tuscan scholar has become a discipline in its own right: it will be referred to here as Actualistic Taphonomy. Taphonomy denotes the study of fossilization processes: a search for principles governing the transition of organismal remains from...

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