Paleoecology of Commensal Epizoans Fouling Flexicalymene (Trilobita) from the Upper Ordovician, Cincinnati Arch Region, USA
Journal of Paleontology
Commensal epizoozoans and episkeletozoans are rarely preserved attached to the external exoskeleton of the Late Ordovician trilobite Flexicalymene. Of nearly 15,000 Flexicalymene specimens examined, 0.1% show epizoozoans or episkeletozoans. Factors limiting Flexicalymene fouling include a shallow burrowing life style, frequent molting of the host, larval preference for other substrates, observational bias caused by overlooking small fouling organisms, and the loss of the non-calcified, outermost cuticle prior to fossilization or as the trilobite weathers from the encasing sediment. Trepostome bryozoans, articulate and inarticulate brachiopods, cornulitids, and a tube-dwelling/boring nonbiomineralized organism represent the preserved members of the Late Ordovician marine hard substrate community fouling Flexicalymene. This assemblage of organisms is less diverse than the hard substrate community fouling Late Ordovician sessile epibenthic organisms. Fouling is not restricted to only large Flexicalymene specimens as observed in previous studies but occurs in medium to large individuals interpreted as early to late holaspid specimens.
Epizoozoans fouling the carcasses or molt ensembles of 16 Flexicalymene specimens provide insight into the life habits of the host and these fouling organisms. Trepostome bryozoans, articulate and inarticulate brachiopods, and cornulitids preferentially attached to elevated portions of the dorsal exoskeleton, and preferentially aligned in either the direct line or lee side of currents generated by Flexicalymene walking on the sea floor or swimming through the water column.
Key, Marcus M., Jr., Gregory A. Schumacher, Loren E. Babcock, Robert C. Frey, William P. Heimbrock, Stephen H. Felton, Dan L. Cooper, Walter B. Gibson, Debbie G. Scheid and Sylvester A. Schumacher. "Paleoecology of Commensal Epizoans Fouling Flexicalymene (Trilobita) from the Upper Ordovician, Cincinnati Arch region, USA." Journal of Paleontology 84, no. 6 (2010): 1121-1134. doi:10.1666/10-018.1.