Ecological succession of a Jurassic shallow-water ichthyosaur fall.
MetadataShow full item record
After the discovery of whale fall communities in modern oceans, it has been hypothesized that during the Mesozoic the carcasses of marine reptiles created similar habitats supporting long-lived and specialized animal communities. Here, we report a fully documented ichthyosaur fall community, from a Late Jurassic shelf setting, and reconstruct the ecological succession of its micro- and macrofauna. The early 'mobile-scavenger' and 'enrichment-opportunist' stages were not succeeded by a 'sulphophilic stage' characterized by chemosynthetic molluscs, but instead the bones were colonized by microbial mats that attracted echinoids and other mat-grazing invertebrates. Abundant cemented suspension feeders indicate a well-developed 'reef stage' with prolonged exposure and colonization of the bones prior to final burial, unlike in modern whale falls where organisms such as the ubiquitous bone-eating worm Osedax rapidly destroy the skeleton. Shallow-water ichthyosaur falls thus fulfilled similar ecological roles to shallow whale falls, and did not support specialized chemosynthetic communities.
Place of Publication
The following license files are associated with this item: