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Echinoderm ichnology: bioturbation, bioerosion and related processes

  • Zain Belaústegui (a1), Fernando Muñiz (a2), James H. Nebelsick (a3), Rosa Domènech (a1) and Jordi Martinell (a1)...

Among invertebrates and both in modern and ancient marine environments, certain echinoderms have been and are some of the most active and widespread bioturbators and bioeroders. Bioturbation and/or bioerosion of regular and irregular echinoids, starfish, brittle stars, sea cucumbers and crinoids are known from modern settings, and some of the resulting traces have their counterparts in the fossil record. By contrast, surficial trails or trackways produced by other modern echinoderms, e.g., sand dollars, exhibit a lower preservation rate and have not yet been identified in the fossil record. In addition, the unique features of the echinoderm skeleton (e.g., composition, rapid growth, multi-element architecture, etc.) may promote the production of related traces produced by the reutilization of echinoderm ossicles (e.g., burrow lining), predation (e.g., borings), or parasitism (e.g., swellings or cysts). Finally, the skeletal robustness of some echinoids may promote their post mortum use as benthic islands for the settlement of hard-substrate dwellers.

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