Chitin

Tryggvi Emilsson emilsson at ARIES.SCS.UIUC.EDU
Wed Feb 26 13:30:25 EST 1997



On 26 Feb 1997, Eric Grunden wrote:

> 
> BTW: I'm still waiting for an answer to why insect chitin
> makes such good fossils, but fungal chitin doesn't.
> Isn't chitin, chitin?...or are there different forms?...
> 



This is just a speculation:
Does an insect fossil actually contain any chitin, or is it just the 
impression left by replacement of the chitin by some material different
from the embedding matrix?
The chitin exoskeleton of an insect is thick and dense compared to the
chitin in a fungus.When the critter dies and gets buried in sediment it
produces a void that slowly gets filled with material which may be
somewhat different than the surroundings. The chitin may later be replaced
by a yet different phase, while the detailed shape is preserved.
Fungi, on the other hand liquify or shrivel before they ever have a chance
to leave an impression in the matrix.

T.Emilsson




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