Abstract

The soft-bodied Chengjiang fossils show great potential for assessing the forces operating during the burial process, particularly subtle gravitational effects that are often overlooked. Evidence from gravitational sorting is consistent with the assumption that most Chengjiang organisms underwent local transport. Based on an examination of 1295 specimens and orientation frequency data, we found that the Chengjiang animals followed hydrostatic rules and obtained equilibrium during the burial process, resting regularly on bedding planes rather than randomly, as seen in the Burgess Shale. Specific gravity could be one of crucial factors determining the burial orientation of these organisms, even before normal compaction occurs during early diagenesis.

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