Fossils are a heavily studied subject. Taphonomists can make some kinds of fossils in the lab in a few hours. The processes involved are well understood.
Some references that I've seen recommended (alphabetic by first author):
Allison and Briggs (eds), Taphonomy: Releasing the Data Locked in the Fossil Record, Plenum Press, New York 1991
Behrensmeyer and Hill (eds), Fossils In The Making : Vertebrate Taphonomy and Paleoecology, University of Chicago Press 1980
Briggs and Crowther (eds.), Palaeobiology: A Synthesis, Blackwell Scientific Publications: Oxford 1990
Briggs, Experimental Taphonomy, Palaios 10:539-550 (1995)
Bromley, Trace Fossils: Biology and Taphonomy, Unwin Hyman: London 1990 280pp. ISBN 0-04-445686-7. Introductory.
Donovan (ed), The Processes of Fossilization, New York: Columbia University Press 1991 and: Belhaven Press: London
Ekder and Smith, Fish Taphonomy and Environmental Inference in Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology vol. 62, pp. 577-592 1988
Gillette and Lockley (eds.) Dinosaur Tracks and Traces, Cambridge University Press, 454pp.
Kidwell and Behrensmeyer Taphonomic Approaches to Time Resolution in Fossil Assemblages, Short Courses in Paleontology no. 6. The Paleontological Society, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee 1993
Lyman, Vertebrate Taphonomy, Cambridge [England] ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1994. Cambridge Manuals In Archaeology Series.
Martin, Taphonomy, A Process Approach, Cambridge University Press 1999, 524pp.
Shipman, The Life History of A Fossil, Harvard University Press, Cambridge 1981
Weigelt, Recent Vertebrate Carcasses and their Paleobiological Implications. University of Chicago Press. Chicago, Illinois 1989