Taphonomy of fossil integumentary structures and bones from Ornithodira
: Chemical composition and modes of preservation

  • Aude Cincotta

Student thesis: Doc typesDoctor of Sciences


Soft tissues are non bio-mineralized tissues that may, in specific cases, be preserved in the geological record, bringing valuable information on the biology of extinct organisms. This dissertation focuses on the study of the modes of preservation of fossil soft tissues, especially integumentary structures such as feathers, from three different specimens of Ornithodira, the clade including dinosaurs and pterosaurs. The studied specimens include two small theropod dinosaurs from the Late Jurassic of Liaoning (China), Anchiornis huxleyi and Serikornis sungei; and one neornithischian dinosaur from the Middle Jurassic of Siberia, Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus. A series of modern analytical techniques were used to study the ultrastructure of the soft tissues and to characterise their chemical composition. The thesis also presents palaeoenvironmental reconstructions of two different vertebrate-bearing localities in order to understand the fossilization modes of their fossils.
Date of Award15 Dec 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Namur
SponsorsFonds de la Recherche Scientifique F.R.S.-FNRS & Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique (IRSNB)
SupervisorJohan Yans (Supervisor), Pascal Godefroit (Co-Supervisor), Guy Terwagne (Jury), Vincent Hallet (Jury), Vinciane Debaille (Jury), Maria McNamara (Jury) & Géraldine Garcia (Jury)


  • dinosaur
  • taphonomy
  • soft tissues
  • feathers

Attachment to an Research Institute in UNAMUR

  • ILEE

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