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Small scale permineralization can produce very detailed fossils.For permineralization to occur, the organism must become covered by sediment soon after death or soon after the initial decay process.The radioactive parent elements used to date rocks and minerals are: Radiometric dating using the naturally-occurring radioactive elements is simple in concept even though technically complex.If we know the number of radioactive parent atoms present when a rock formed and the number present now, we can calculate the age of the rock using the decay constant.As radioactive Parent atoms decay to stable daughter atoms (as uranium decays to lead) each disintegration results in one more atom of the daughter than was initially present and one less atom of the parent.The probability of a parent atom decaying in a fixed period of time is always the same for all atoms of that type regardless of temperature, pressure, or chemical conditions. The time required for one-half of any original number of parent atoms to decay is the half-life, which is related to the decay constant by a simple mathematical formula.
Some fossils consist only of skeletal remains or teeth; other fossils contain traces of skin, feathers or even soft tissues. In some cases the original remains of the organism completely dissolve or are otherwise destroyed.
Permineralization is a process of fossilization that occurs when an organism is buried.
The empty spaces within an organism (spaces filled with liquid or gas during life) become filled with mineral-rich groundwater.
The remaining organism-shaped hole in the rock is called an external mold.
If this hole is later filled with other minerals, it is a cast.