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CATEGORY: flora; fauna
DEFINITION: In paleontology, the organic remains, impression, imprint, traces, or mineral replacement of an animal or plant organism of a past geologic age preserved in the strata of the earth's crust. Only a small fraction of ancient organisms are preserved as fossils, and usually only organisms that have a solid and resistant skeleton are preserved.
fossil assemblage
DEFINITION: The part of a deposited assemblage that survives in a site or locality until discovery.
fossil beach
CATEGORY: geology; geography
DEFINITION: A former beach, now situated above sea or lake level. Vertical displacement may be caused by isostatic crust changes or eustatic sea-level fluctuations.
fossil cuticle
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: The outermost layer of the skin of leaves or blades of grass, made of cutin, a very resistant, protective material that survives in the archaeological record often in feces. Cuticular analysis is useful to palynology in environmental reconstruction.
fossil ice wedge
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: foliated ground ice, wedge ice
CATEGORY: geology
DEFINITION: A soil feature caused when the ground freezes and contracts, opening up fissures in the permafrost that fill with wedges of ice. The fossil wedges are proof of past cooling of climate and of the depth of permafrost. Foliated ground ice, or wedge ice, is the term for large masses of ice growing in thermal contraction cracks in permafrost.
fossil ivory
CATEGORY: fauna; artifact
DEFINITION: Ivory furnished by the tusks of the mammoth preserved in great quantity in Siberian ice. It is the material of which nearly all ivory-turner's work in Russia is made. The ivory has not undergone any petrifying change like other fossils and it can be used for artifact manufacture as easily as tusks from living animals.
fossiles directeurs
CATEGORY: lithics
DEFINITION: Classes of lithic artifacts associated with specific time periods and archaeological cultures of the European Paleolithic.
index fossil
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: index fossil concept; index species
CATEGORY: artifact; technique
DEFINITION: A fossil with widespread geographical range but which is restricted in time to a brief existence. In archaeology, it is a theory that proposes that strata containing similar fossil assemblages will tend to be of similar age. This concept enables archaeologists to characterize and date strata within archaeological sites using diagnostic artifact forms, making an animal species the basis for dating by faunal association. Artifacts that share the attributes of index fossils are useful in the cross-dating and correlation of deposits that contain them and in the construction of chronologies.
CATEGORY: flora; fauna
DEFINITION: Large-scale floral or faunal remains recovered from an archaeological excavation, cf. microfossil.
plant macrofossil
DEFINITION: Preserved or carbonized plant parts recovered from archaeological sites and large enough to be observed without a microscope.
reference fossil
DEFINITION: Any fossil with a known date that is used to assign a date to a deposit containing the fossil.
type fossil
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: A tool characteristic of a particular archaeological era a dated concept borrowed from geology. A particular artifact form used to define a specific period or culture such as an Acheulian handax; a specific artifact which serves to represent the taxon of which it is a member. Such an artifact would have a wide distribution in space but a restricted one in time. Its value is for correlating cultural sequences over large areas as in cross-dating. In archaeology the time taken for a type to spread by diffusion must be allowed for and if possible calculated from outside evidence.

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