GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 213-14
Presentation Time: 11:30 AM


BAUER, Jennifer, Museum of Paleontology, University of Michigan, 1105 North University Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48108-2463, ANDERSON, Lian C., Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Michigan, 1100 North University Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48108-2463, VANTOORENBURG, Haley, School of Geosciences, University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, NES 107, Tampa, FL 33620-5550 and SHEFFIELD, Sarah, The University of South FloridaSchool of Geosciences, 4202 E Fowler Ave NES 207, Tampa, FL 33620-0001

The University of Michigan’s Online Repository of Fossils (UMORF) is a website used to host virtual specimens housed at the U-M Museum of Paleontology (UMMP). An in-house built web viewer is used to visualize specimens reconstructed primarily through photogrammetric methods. UMORF has largely been used as a tool to share virtual fossils with researchers when loans were not feasible due to specimen preservation, conditions, or other reasons. These virtual specimens provide an opportunity for a variety of remote research projects. The UMMP is a regional collection that contains a large amount of material from the Middle Devonian of the Michigan Basin region. This includes the rich fauna of the Silica Shale, which has been widely studied. Paraspirifer, a large spiriferid brachiopod, shells are preserved as micro-ecosystems with numerous epibionts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we started a research project imaging and creating virtual fossils of UMMP’s large type collection of Paraspirifer. One aim is to better characterize the type and distribution of epibionts and the other is to explore the possibility of using 3D geometric morphometrics to determine if we can identify epibionts by the topographic alterations they produce on the brachiopod shells. Here, we share the result of examining just over 20 Paraspirifer individuals. The characterization methods provide a detailed description of epibionts and valve coverage, which complement the 3D meshes. As expected, the epibiont species that drastically alter the topography of the valves, such as tabulate coral Aulopora, produce distinct shifts in morphospace from an epibiont-free Paraspirifer, whereas epibionts that are topographically low, such as trepestome bryozoan Atactotoechus, show a more subtle morphospace shift. This knowledge has the possibility to contribute to understanding how these epibionts functioned in Devonian communities.