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Parasitism of a new apiocrinitid crinoid species from the Middle Jurassic (Callovian) of southern Israel

  • Mark A. Wilson (a1), Elizabeth A. Reinthal (a1) and William I. Ausich (a2)

A new species of Apiocrinites is described from the Matmor Formation (Middle Jurassic, upper Callovian) of Hamakhtesh Hagadol, southern Israel. Apiocrinites feldmani n. sp. is a small species associated with the larger A. negevensis in a calcareous sponge and coral patch reef community. During life the columns of A. feldmani were commonly and preferentially infested with a soft-bodied parasite that grew with the crinoid and became embedded in its skeleton. These parasites embedded at the articulation between columnals, forcing the columnals to grow around them and producing with time a conical pit surrounded by swollen stereom. If the parasite died while the crinoid was still growing, the conical pit was roofed over by continued growth of columnals, resulting in a swelling with no external opening. Because the crinoids invested energy in forming extra skeleton around these parasites and because the crinoid stems were consequently deformed and likely lost flexibility, we consider these parasites to have caused significant harm. Curiously, these parasites apparently did not infect the larger and more common contemporaneous A. negevensis that lived in the same community.

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