A rich assemblage of various types of bromalites from the lower Carnian “Konservat-Lagerstätte” from the Reingraben Shales in Polzberg (Northern Calcareous Alps, Lower Austria) is described for the first time in detail. They comprise large regurgitalites consisting of numerous entire shells of ammonoid Austrotrachyceras or their fragments and rare teuthid arm hooks, and buccal cartilage of Phragmoteuthis. Small coprolites composed mainly of fish remains were also found. The size, shape and co-occurrence with vertebrate skeletal remains imply that regurgitalites were likely produced by large durophagous fish (most likely by cartilaginous fish Acrodus). Coprolites, in turn, were likely produced by medium-sized piscivorous actinopterygians. Our findings are consistent with other lines of evidence suggesting that durophagous predation has been intense during the Triassic and that the so-called Mesozoic marine revolution has already started in the early Mesozoic.
Recent observations indicate that shell fragmentation can be a useful tool in assessing crushing predation in marine communities. However, criteria for recognizing shell breakage caused by durophagous predators versus physical factors are still not well established. Here, we provide data from tumbling and aquarium experiments to argue that physical and biotic processes lead to different patterns of shell damage, specifically that angular shell fragments are good indicators of durophagous predation. Using such angular shell fragments as a predation proxy, we analyze data from 57 European Paleozoic localities spanning the Ordovician through the Mississippian. Our results reveal a significant increase in angular shell fragments (either occurring as isolated valves or present in regurgitalites) in the Mississippian. The timing of this increase is coincident with the increased diversity of crushing predators as well as marked anti-predatory changes in the architecture and mode of life of invertebrate prey observed after the end-Devonian Hangenberg extinction (359 Ma). More specifically, the observed trend in shell fragmentation constitutes strong and independent confirmation of a recently suggested end-Devonian changeover in the primary method of fish predation from shearing to crushing. These results also highlight the important effect of extinction events, not only on taxonomic diversity, but also on the nature of predator-prey interactions.
Drill holes made by predators in prey shells are widely considered to be the most unambiguous bodies of evidence of predator-prey interactions in the fossil record. However, recognition of traces of predatory origin from those formed by abiotic factors still waits for a rigorous evaluation as a prerequisite to ascertain predation intensity through geologic time and to test macroevolutionary patterns. New experimental data from tumbling various extant shells demonstrate that abrasion may leave holes strongly resembling the traces produced by drilling predators. They typically represent singular, circular to oval penetrations perpendicular to the shell surface. These data provide an alternative explanation to the drilling predation hypothesis for the origin of holes recorded in fossil shells. Although various non-morphological criteria (evaluation of holes for non-random distribution) and morphometric studies (quantification of the drill hole shape) have been employed to separate biological from abiotic traces, these are probably insufficient to exclude abrasion artifacts, consequently leading to overestimate predation intensity. As a result, from now on, we must adopt more rigorous criteria to appropriately distinguish abrasion artifacts from drill holes, such as microstructural identification of micro-rasping traces.
Echinoderms have long been considered to be one of the animal phyla that is strictly marine. However, there is growing evidence that some recent species may live in either brackish or hypersaline environments. Surprisingly, discoveries of fossil echinoderms in non-(open)marine paleoenvironments are lacking. In Wojkowice Quarry (Southern Poland), sediments of lowermost part of the Middle Triassic are exposed. In limestone layer with cellular structures and pseudomorphs after gypsum, two dense accumulations of articulated ophiuroids (Aspiduriella similis (Eck)) were documented. The sediments with ophiuroids were formed in environment of increased salinity waters as suggested by paleontological, sedimentological, petrographical and geochemical data. Discovery of Triassic hypersaline ophiuroids invalidates the paleontological assumption that fossil echinoderms are indicators of fully marine conditions. Thus caution needs to be taken when using fossil echinoderms in paleoenvironmental reconstructions.
scite is a Brooklyn-based startup that helps researchers better discover and understand research articles through Smart Citations–citations that display the context of the citation and describe whether the article provides supporting or contrasting evidence. scite is used by students researchers from around the world and is funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.