Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

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.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Echinoderm ichnology: bioturbation, bioerosion and related processes
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Echinoderm ichnology: bioturbation, bioerosion and related processes
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Echinoderm ichnology: bioturbation, bioerosion and related processes
      Available formats
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

J. Aguirre , J.M. de Gibert , and A. Puga-Bernabéu , 2010, Proximal–distal ichnofabric changes in a siliciclastic shelf, Early Pliocene, Guadalquivir Basin, southwest Spain: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 291, p. 328337.

Y.A. Arendt , 2012, Traces of Augoichnus dituberculatus gen. et sp. nov. on Hypermorphocrinus magnospinosus from the Lower Permian of Cisuralia: Paleontological Journal, v. 46, p. 886893.

R.B. Aronson , 1987, Predation on fossil and Recent ophiuroids: Paleobiology, v. 13, p. 187192.

K. Ayranci , and S.E. Dashtgard , 2013, Infaunal holothurian distributions and their traces in the Fraser River delta front and prodelta, British Columbia, Canada: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 392, p. 232246.

T.K. Baumiller , 1996, Boreholes in the Middle Devonian blastoid Heteroschisma and their implications for gastropod drilling: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 123, p. 343351.

T.K. Baumiller , 2003, Evaluating the interaction between platyceratid gastropods and crinoids: a cost-benefit approach: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 201, p. 199209.

T.K. Baumiller , and F.J. Gahn , 2004, Testing predator-driven evolution with Paleozoic crinoid arm regulation: Science, v. 305, p. 14531455.

T.K. Baumiller , R. Mooi , and C.G. Messing , 2008, Urchins in the meadow: paleobiological and evolutionary implications of cidaroid predation on crinoids: Paleobiology, v. 34, p. 2234.

T.K. Baumiller , M.A. Salamon , P. Gorzelak , R. Mooi , C.G. Messing , and F.J. Gahn , 2010, Post-Paleozoic crinoid radiation in response to benthic predation preceded the Mesozoic marine revolution: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, v. 107, p. 58935896.

Z. Belaústegui , J.H. Nebelsick , J.M. de Gibert , R. Domènech , and J. Martinell , 2012, A taphonomic approach to the genetic interpretation of clypeasteroid accumulations from Tarragona (Miocene, NE Spain): Lethaia, v. 45, p. 548565.

Z. Belaústegui , J.M. de Gibert , J.H. Nebelsick , R. Domènech , and J. Martinell , 2013, Clypeasteroid tests as a benthic island for gastrochaenid bivalve colonization: evidences from the Middle Miocene of Tarragona (NE Spain): Palaeontology, v. 56, p. 783796.

C.M. Bell , 2004, Asteroid and ophiuroid trace fossils from the Lower Cretaceous of Chile: Palaeontology, v. 47, p. 5166.

M. Bernardi , S. Boschele , P Ferretti ., and M. Avanzini , 2010, Echinoid burrow Bichordites monastiriensis from the Oligocene of NE Italy: Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, v. 55, p. 479486.

A.G. Beu , R.A. Henderson , and C.S. Nelson , 1972, Notes on the taphonomy and paleoecology of New Zealand tertiary spatangoida: New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, v. 15, p. 275286.

D.B. Blake , and T.E. Guensburg , 1994, Predation by the Ordovician asteroid Promopalaeaster on a pelecypod: Lethaia, v. 27, p. 235239.

J. Bohatý , W.I. Ausich , E. Nardin , C. Nyhuis , and S. Schröder , 2012, Coral-crinoid biocoenosis and resulting trace fossils from the Middle Devonian of the Eifel synclines (Rhenish Massif, Germany): Journal of Paleontology, v. 86, p. 282301.

T. Borszcz , and M. Zatoń , 2013, The oldest record of predation on echinoids evidence from the middle Jurassic of Poland: Lethaia, v. 46, p. 141145.

T. Borszcz , P. Kuklinski , and M. Zatoń , 2013, Encrustation patterns on Late Cretaceous (Turonian) echinoids from southern Poland: Facies, v. 59, p. 299318.

C.E. Brett , 1978, Host-specific pit-forming epizoans on Silurian crinoids: Lethaia, v. 11, p. 217232.

R.G. Bromley , and U. Asgaard , 1993, Two bioerosion ichnofacies produced by early and late burial associated with sea-level change: Geologische Rundschau, v. 82, p. 276280.

R.G. Bromley , U. Asgaard , and M. Jensen , 1997, Experimental study of sediment structures created by a spatangoid echinoid, Echinocardium mediterraneum : Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, v. 108, p. 183189.

O. Bronstein , and Y. Loya , 2014, Echinoid community structure and rates of herbivory and bioerosion on exposed and sheltered reefs: Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, v. 456, p. 817.

R.M. Carter , 1968, On the biology and palaeontology of some predators of bivalved mollusca: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 4, p. 2965.

A.B. Christensen , and J.M. Colacino , 2000, Respiration in the burrowing brittlestar, Hemipholis elongate Say (Echinodermata, Ophiuroidea): a study of the effects of environmental variables on oxygen uptake: Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part A, v. 127, p. 201213.

C. Cónsole-Gonella , and R.A. Marquillas , 2014, Bioclaustration trace fossils in epeiric shallow marine stromatolites: the Cretaceous-Palaeogene Yacoraite Formation, Northwestern Argentina: Lethaia, v. 47, p. 107119.

T.P. Crimes , and J.D. Crossley , 1991, A diverse ichnofauna from Silurian flysch of the Aberystwyth Grits Formation, Wales: Geological Journal, v. 26, p. 2664.

T.P. Crimes , and J. Zhiwen , 1986, Trace fossils from the Precambrian–Cambrian boundary candidate at Meishucun, Jinning, Yunnan, China: Geological Magazine, v. 123, p. 641649.

S.E. Dashtgard , and M.K. Gingras , 2012, Marine Invertebrate Neoichnology, in Knaust, D., and Bromley, R.G., eds., Trace fossils as indicators of sedimentary environments, Developments in Sedimentology, 64, p. 273295.

B. David , S. Stock , F. de Carlo , and C. de Ridder , 2009, Microstructure of Antarctic cidaroid spines: Diversity of shapes and ectosymbiont attachments: Marine Biology, v. 156, p. 15591572.

B. Deline , 2008, The first evidence of predatory or parasitic drilling in stylophoran echinoderms: Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, v. 53, p. 739743.

H. Demírcan , and A. Uchman , 2012, The miniature echinoid trace fossil Bichordites kuzunensis isp. nov. from early Oligocene prodelta sediments of the Mezardere Formation, Gökçeada Island, NW Turkey: Acta Geologica Polonica, v. 62, p. 205215.

S.K. Donovan , 2006, Crinoid anchoring strategies for soft-bottom dwelling (Seilacher and Macclintock, 2005): Palaios, v. 21, p. 397399.

S.K. Donovan , 2015, A prejudiced review of ancient parasites and their host echinoderms: CSI Fossil Record or just an excuse for speculation?, in De Baets, K., and Littlewood, D.T.J., eds., Advances in Parasitology. Fossil Parasites: Academic Press, Elsevier, London, UK, p. 291328.

S.K. Donovan , and J.W.M. Jagt , 2003, Oichnus Bromley borings in the irregular echinoid Hemipneustes Agassiz from the Type Maastrichtian (Upper Cretaceous, the Netherlands and Belgium): Ichnos, v. 9, p. 6774.

S.K. Donovan , and J.M.W. Jagt , 2013, Site Selectivity of the pit Oichnus excavatus Donovan and Jagt infesting Hemipneustes striatoradiatus (Leske) (Echinoidea) in the Type Maastrichtian (Upper Cretaceous, The Netherlands): Ichnos, v. 20, p. 112115.

S.K. Donovan , and W. Renema , 2016, Eating echinoid spines: further thoughts on Wilson et al. (2015): Lethaia Focus, v. 49, p. 12.

J.F. Dynowski , 2012, Echinoderm remains in shallow-water carbonates at Fernandez Bay, San Salvador Island, Bahamas: Palaios, v. 27, p. 181189.

J.D. Eckert , 1988, The ichnogenus Tremichnus in the Lower Silurian of western New York: Lethaia, v. 21, p. 281283.

H.R. Feldman , and C.E. Brett , 1998, Epi- and endobiontic organisms on Late Jurassic crinoid columns from the Negev Desert, Israel: Implications for co-evolution: Lethaia, v. 31, p. 5771.

C. Franzen , 1974, Epizoans on Silurian-Devonian crinoids: Lethaia, v. 7, p. 287301.

F.J. Gahn , and T.K. Baumiller , 2003, Infestation of Middle Devonian (Givetian) camerate crinoids by platyceratid gastropods and its implications for the nature of their biotic interaction: Lethaia, v. 36, p. 7182.

J.M. de Gibert , and R. Goldring , 2007, An ichnofabric approach to the depositional interpretation of the intensely burrowed Bateig Limestone, Miocene, SE Spain: Sedimentary Geology, v. 194, p. 116.

J.M. de Gibert , and R. Goldring , 2008, Spatangoid-produced ichnofabrics (Bateig Limestone, Miocene, Spain) and the preservation of spatangoid trace fossils: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 270, p. 299310.

J.M. de Gibert , J. Martinell , and R. Domènech , 1998, Entobia ichnofacies in fossil rocky shores, Lower Pliocene, northwestern Mediterranean: Palaios, v. 13, p. 476487.

J.M. de Gibert , R. Domènech , and J. Martinell , 2012, Rocky shorelines, in Knaust, D., and Bromley, R.G., eds., Trace fossils as indicators ;of sedimentary environments, Developments in Sedimentology, 64, p. 441462.

M.A. Gibson , and J.B. Watson , 1989, Predatory borings in echinoids from the upper Ocala Formation (Eocene), north-central Florida, U.S.A: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 71, p. 309321.

M.K. Gingras , D.G. Pemberton , S. Dashtgard , and L. Dafoe , 2008, How fast do marine invertebrates burrow?: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 270, p. 280286.

T.B. Grun , 2016, Echinoid test damage by a singray predator: Lethaia, v. 49, p. 285286.

T. Grun , D. Sievers , and J.H. Nebelsick , 2014, Drilling predation on the clypeasteroid echinoid Echinocyamus pusillus from the Mediterranean Sea (Giglio, Italy): Historical Biology, v. 26, p. 745757.

H. Hess , 2010, Myzostome deformation on arms of the early Jurassic crinoid Balanocrinus gracilis (Charlesworth): Journal of Paleontology, v. 84, p. 10311034.

H.J. Hofmann , and I.M. Patel , 1989, Trace fossils from the type “Etchemian Series” (Lower Cambrian Ratcliffc Brook Formation), Saint John area, New Brunswick, Canada: Geological Magazine, v. 126, p. 139157.

J.W.M. Jagt , R.H.B. Fraaije , and B.W.M. van Bakel , 2009, A late Miocene astropectinid (Echinodermata, Asteroidea) and associated ichnofossils from Liessel, province of Noord-Brabant, the Netherlands: Netherlands Journal of Geosciences, v. 88, p. 127131.

M. Jangoux , 1987, Diseases of Echinodermata. III. Agents metazoans (Annelida to Pisces): Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, v. 3, p. 5983.

K. Kanazawa , 1995, How spatangoids produce their traces: relationship between burrowing mechanism and trace structure: Lethaia, v. 28, p. 211219.

A.A. Klompmaker , and G.A. Boxshall , 2015, Fossil Crustaceans as Parasites and Hosts, in De Baets, K., and Littlewood, D.T.J., eds., Advances in Parasitology. Fossil Parasites: Academic Press, Elsevier, London, UK, p. 233289.

D. Knaust , and C. Neumann , 2016, Asteriacites von Schlotheim, 1820 – the oldest valid ichnogenus name – and other asterozoan-produced trace fossils: Earth-Science Reviews, v. 157, p. 111120.

D. Knaust , M. Warchoł , and I.A. Kane , 2014, Ichnodiversity and ichnoabundance: Revealing depositional trends in a confined turbidite system: Sedimentology, v. 61, p. 22182267.

W.D. Liddell , and C.E. Brett , 1982, Skeletal overgrowths among epizoans from the Silurian (Wenlockian) Waldron Shale: Paleobiology, v. 8, p. 6778.

M.G. Mángano , L.A. Buatois , R.R. West , and C.G. Maples , 1999, The origin and paleoecologic significance of the trace fossil Asteriacites in the Pennsylvanian of Kansas and Missouri: Lethaia, v. 32, p. 1730.

J. Martinell , 1982, Echinoid bioerosion from the Pliocene of NE Spain: Geobios, v. 15, p. 249253.

E. Mayoral , and F. Muñiz , 2001, New ichnospecies of Cardioichnus from the Miocene of the Guadalquivir Basin, Huelva, Spain: Ichnos, v. 8, p. 6976.

C.A. Meadows , R.E. Fordyce , and T.K. Baumiller , 2015, Drill holes in the irregular echinoid, Fibularia, from the Oligocene of New Zealand: Palaios, v. 30, p. 810817.

R.J. Merril , and E.S. Hobson , 1970, Field observations of Dendraster excentricus, a Sand Dollar of Western North America: American Midland Naturalist., v. 83, p. 595624.

D.L. Meyer , and W.I. Ausich , 1983, Biotic interactions among recent and among fossil crinoids, in Tevesz, M.J.S., and McCall, P.L., eds., Biotic interactions in recent and fossil benthic communities, Topics in Geobiology, 3, p. 377427.

R. Mikuláš , 1990, The ophiuroid Taeniaster as a tracemaker of Asteriacites, Ordovician of Czechoslovakia: Ichnos, v. 1, p. 133137.

J.H. Nebelsick , and M. Kowalewski , 1999, Drilling predation on recent clypeasteroid echinoids from the Red Sea: Palaios, v. 14, p. 127144.

J.H. Nebelsick , B. Schmid , and M. Stachowitsch , 1997, The encrustation of fossil and recent sea-urchin tests: ecological and taphonomic significance: Lethaia, v. 30, p. 271284.

C. Neumann , 2000, Evidence of predation on Cretaceous sea stars from northwest Germany: Lethaia, v. 33, p. 6570.

C. Neumann , and M. Wisshak , 2006, A foraminiferal parasite on the sea urchin Echinocorys: Ichnological evidence from the Late Cretaceous (Lower Maastrichtian, Northern Germany): Ichnos, v. 13, p. 185190.

C. Neumann , and M. Wisshak , 2009, Gastropod parasitism on Late Cretaceous to Early Paleocene holasteroid echinoids - Evidence from Oichnus halo isp. n.: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 284, p. 115119.

C. Neumann , M. Wisshak , and R.G. Bromley , 2008, Boring a mobile domicile: an alternative to the conchicolous life habit, in Wisshak, M., and Tapanila, L., eds., Current Developments in Bioerosion: Springer, Heidelberg, p. 307328.

J.C. Plaziat , and M. Mahmoudi , 1988, Trace fossils attributed to burrowing echinoids: a revision including new ichnogenus and ichnospecies: Geobios, v. 21, p. 209233.

S.E. Peters , and K.B. Bork , 1998, Secondary tiering on crinoids from the Waldron Shale (Silurian: Wenlockian) of Indiana: Journal of Paleontology, v. 72, p. 887894.

I.A. Rahman , R.P.S. Jefferies , W.H. Südkamp , and D.A. Smith , 2009, Ichnological insights into Mitrate Palaeobiology: Palaeontology, v. 52, p. 127138.

I.A. Rahman , Z. Belaústegui , S. Zamora , J.H. Nebelsick , R. Domènech , and J. Martinell , 2015, Miocene Clypeaster from Valencia (E Spain): Insights into the Taphonomy and ichnology of bioeroded echinoids using X-ray micro-tomography: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 438, p. 168179.

R. Ramalho , G. Helffrich , D.N. Schmidt , and D. Vance , 2010, Tracers of uplift and subsidence in the Cape Verde Archipelago: Journal of the Geological Society, London, v. 167, p. 519538.

A. Santos , E. Mayoral , C.P. Dumont , C.M. da Silva , S.P. Ávila , B. Gudveig Baarli , M. Cachão , M.E. Johnson , and R.S. Ramalho , 2015, Role of environmental change in rock-boring echinoid trace fossils: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 432, p. 114.

M. Schlirf , 2012, Heliophycus seilacheri n. isp. and Biformites insolitus Linck, 1949 (trace fossils) from the Late Triassic of the Germanic Basin: Their taxonomy and palaeoecological relevance: Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Abhandlungen, v. 263, p. 185198.

S. Schoppe , and B. Werding , 1996, The boreholes of the sea urchin genus Echinometra (Echinodermata: Echinoidea: Echinometridae) as a microhabitat in tropical South America: P.S.Z.N. I: Marine Ecology, v. 17, p. 181186.

A. Seilacher , 1979, Constructional morphology of sand dollars: Paleobiology, v. 5, p. 191221.

A. Seilacher , 1983, Upper Paleozoic trace fossils from the Gilf Kebir-Abu Ras area in southwestern Egypt: Journal of African Earth Sciences, v. 1, p. 2134.

A. Seilacher , and C. Macclintock , 2005, Crinoid anchoring strategies for soft-bottom dwelling: Palaios, v. 20, p. 224240.

D. Sievers , J.P. Friedrich , and J.H. Nebelsick , 2014, A feast for crows: bird predation on irregular echinoids from Brittany, France: Palaios, v. 29, p. 8794.

K.R. Smilek , and D.I. Hembree , 2012, Neoichnology of Thyonella gemmata: a case study for understanding holothurian ichnofossils: The Open Paleontology Journal, v. 4, p. 110.

A.B. Smith , and T.P. Crimes , 1983, Trace fossils formed by heart urchins - a study of Scolicia and related traces: Lethaia, v. 16, p. 7992.

O.E. Sutcliffe , 1997, An ophiuroid trackway from the Lower Devonian Hünsruck Slate, Germany: Lethaia, v. 30, p. 3339.

L. Tapanila , 2005, Palaeoecology and diversity of endosymbionts in Palaeozoic marine invertebrates: Trace fossil evidence: Lethaia, v. 38, p. 8999.

P. Tchoumatchenco , and A. Uchman , 2001, The oldest deep-sea Ophiomorpha and Scolicia and associated trace fossils from the Upper Jurassic–Lower Cretaceous deep-water turbidite deposits of SW Bulgaria: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 169, p. 8599.

J.R. Thomka , T.J. Malgieri , and C.E. Brett , 2014, A swollen crinoid pluricolumnal from the Upper Ordovician of northern Kentucky, USA: the oldest record of an amorphous paleopathologic response in Crinoidea?: Estonian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 63, p. 317322.

J.R. Thomka , C.E. Brett , A.L. Young , T.E. Bantel , and D.L. Bissett , 2016, Taphonomy of ‘cystoids’ (Echinodermata: Diploporita) from the Napoleon quarry of southeastern Indiana, USA: The Lower Silurian Massie Formation as an atypical Lagerstätte: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 443, p. 263277.

L.H. Vallon , A.K. Rindsberg , and R.G. Bromley , 2016, An updated classification of animal behaviour preserved in substrates: Geodinamica Acta, v. 28, p. 520.

L. Villier , D. Neraudeau , B. Clavel , C. Neumann , and B. David , 2004, Phylogeny of early Cretaceous spatangoids (Echinodermata: Echinoidea) and taxonomic implications: Palaeontology, v. 47, p. 265292.

J.E. Warme , 1975, Borings as trace fossils, and the processes of marine bioeorosion, in Frey, R.W., ed., The Study of Trace Fossils: Springer-Verlag, New York, p. 181227.

M.A. Wilson , E.A. Reinthal , and W.I. Ausich , 2014, Parasitism of a new apiocrinitid crinoid species from the Middle Jurassic (Callovian) of Southern Israel: Journal of Paleontology, v. 88, p. 12121221.

M.A. Wilson , T. Borszcz , and M. Zatoń , 2015, Bitten spines reveal unique evidence for fish predation on Middle Jurassic echinoids: Lethaia, v. 48, p. 49.

J.P. Zonneveld , and M.K. Gingras , 2014, Sedilichnus, Oichnus, Fossichnus and Tremichnus: ‘Small round holes in shells’ revisited: Journal of Paleontology, v. 88, p. 895905.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Paleontology
  • ISSN: 0022-3360
  • EISSN: 1937-2337
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-paleontology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 17
Total number of PDF views: 171 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 613 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 9th February 2017 - 23rd September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.