Northeastern Section - 43rd Annual Meeting (27-29 March 2008)
Paper No. 38-7
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM

DIRECT EVIDENCE OF FOOD CHAINS AT THE LINTON LAGERSTATTE

WENDRUFF, Andrew J., Geology, Mercyhurst College, 3418 Old French Road, Erie, PA 16504, awendr72@mercyhurst.edu and MCKENZIE, Scott C., Geology, Mercyhurst College, 501 East 38th Street, Erie, PA 16546

Understanding the dynamics of food chains in the fossil record has been limited by the low number of direct interactions preserved between predators and prey. The Linton lagerstatte has recently been subject to an intensive 23 year project to sample the fossil biota. This project has yielded 5 examples of feeding activity between 8 genera. Previous excavation by many researchers over 150 years had brought to light only one example.

The 6 fossils all show interaction in the form of one creature being in the mouth or stomach of another. The rarity of articulated fossils at the site precludes these being fortuitous associations. Each of the interactions shows the prey item caught by its caudal region. We believe that this indicated the manipulation phase of consumption had not yet occurred. The environment of the deposit may have had anoxic or poisonous lower levels that may have killed the animals as the pursuit entered deeper water.

The Late Paleozoic was a time of great ecological change both in the diversification of major aquatic lines and the development of early terrestrial ecosystems. Among the Coal Measure sites, only Linton has stood the test of time. It is the only coal measures site where one still has the opportunity to continue to collect scientifically important specimens that still shed light on the vast array of Upper Carboniferous life forms. Very few Upper Carboniferous sites rival the Diversity of Linton life forms, which boasts over twenty-one species of amphibian, three species of reptile, ten species of fish (including a xenacanth shark), several species of diplopod, two species of syncarid, ostrocods and a serpulid worm. Interactions between species preserved in the fossil record are exceptionally rare, but at Linton over the years, six different interactions have been found. With this knowledge, a fairly rigid food pyramid can be extrapolated. More importantly, these interspecies interactions provide a window into an ecosystem that existed more than 300 million years ago.

We will present evidence for interactions and food chains in the Late Carboniferous.

Northeastern Section - 43rd Annual Meeting (27-29 March 2008)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 38--Booth# 7
Paleontology (Posters)
Hyatt Regency Buffalo: Grand Ballroom C
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Saturday, 29 March 2008

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 40, No. 2, p. 79

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