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Fossil Record of Parasitism on Marine Invertebrates with Special Emphasis on the Platyceratid-Crinoid Interaction

  • Tomasz K. Baumiller (a1) and Forest J. Gahn (a1)

The paleontological literature on marine invertebrates is rich in supposed examples of parasitism and our tabulation shows a nearly even distribution of reported cases through the post-Cambrian Phanerozoic. Slightly lower frequencies characterize the Triassic and Jurassic and higher frequencies the Cretaceous and Tertiary, and the pattern roughly mirrors Sepkoski's (1984) marine diversity curve. The total number of parasitic associations for any geologic period rarely exceeds a dozen, yet few of the reported examples provide explicit criteria distinguishing parasitism from predation, commensalism, or mutualism. We evaluated the published examples using the following criteria: (1) evidence of a long-term relationship between two organisms, (2) benefit of interaction to supposed parasite, and (3) detriment of interaction to the host We found that only in exceptional cases were these criteria fulfilled. One example that provides much information on parasitic interactions involves platyceratids and crinoids and we summarize the evidence for the parasitic interaction between these two groups of organisms.

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