Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

What Was Eating Clams And Brachiopods 250 Million Years Ago, Before Modern Predators?

Date:
April 6, 2001
Source:
Virginia Tech
Summary:
Some marine gastropods (snails) dine by drilling holes in clams and other shellfish. These predators eat the flesh through the hole that they drill in their prey. Now, a Virginia Tech doctoral student has discovered signs of drilling in clams (bivalve mollusks) and another bivalved organism, brachiopods, as far back as 290 million years ago.

(Blacksburg, Va., April 6, 2001) – Some marine gastropods (snails) dine by drilling holes in clams and other shellfish. These predators eat the flesh through the hole that they drill in their prey. It's been going on for -- well, that's the question. Today's drilling gastropods have been around since the Early Triassic (about 210 million years). Now, a Virginia Tech doctoral student has discovered signs of drilling in clams (bivalve mollusks) and another bivalved organism, brachiopods, as far back as 290 million years ago, in the Permian period. What was dining in this fashion so long ago?

Related Articles


Alan Hoffmeister of Cincinnati, Ohio, a geological sciences student at Virginia Tech, will present his research at the 50th annual meeting of the Southeastern Section of the Geological Society of America (GSA), April 5-6 in Raleigh, N.C.

Hoffmeister is studying a collection of fossils from the late Paleozoic (290 to 250 million years ago), which was gathered from the Glass Mountains in West Texas over a 40-year period by G. Arthur Cooper. The collection is housed at the Smithsonian. So far, out of 3,140 brachiopod specimens, Hoffmeister has identified 58 unquestionable drill holes. Of 654 clams, 23 had definite drill holes. This is the earliest finding of drilling in clams and the first time either group has been studied in a quantitative way in Permian rocks, Hoffmeister says. The finding has evolutionary and ecological implications, he says. "This data may support the hypothesis of escalation, proposed in the mid 1980’s by Gary Vermeij. The hypothesis says that when a species is subject to predation, it evolves defenses, such as a thicker shell or ornamentation, to combat being eaten. The predator may then evolve strategies to overcome these defenses," Hoffmeister explains. "This is a major interactive force in benthic marine ecosystems today."

Ecologically, the drilling represents a new type of pressure on organisms that lived millions of years ago. "But it also expands the use of potential food resources within the ecosystem. Drilling represents a novel method of predation and gives us a good indication of individual interaction. You don't often see evidence of this kind of interaction from millions of years ago. But here you see a hole in the victim. It's a record that helps expand ecological understanding."

At Raleigh, Hoffmeister will present his findings in the context of subsequent instances of drilling, pointing out that drilling increased from less than 2 percent from the late Paleozoic to more than 30 percent in more recent Miocene deposits, only seven million years old. In this time frame clams replaced brachiopods as the dominant bivalved organism in the marine ecosystem. He points out that brachiopods don't offer much nourishment for the energy required to drill them.

Therefore, Hoffmeister conjectures that brachiopod drilling may be a result of parasites that had attached in order to snag crumbs as the brachiopod suctioned and filtered its own dinner. Co-authors of the paper, "Evidence for predatory drilling in late Paleozoic brachiopods and mollusks from West Texas," are Michal Kowalewski and Richard Bambach, faculty members in geological sciences at Virginia Tech, and Tomasz Baumiller of the Museum of Paleontology at the University of Michigan. The talk will be at 9:20 a.m. April 6 in the Sheraton Capital Center Hotel in Raleigh.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Virginia Tech. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Virginia Tech. "What Was Eating Clams And Brachiopods 250 Million Years Ago, Before Modern Predators?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 April 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/04/010406074913.htm>.
Virginia Tech. (2001, April 6). What Was Eating Clams And Brachiopods 250 Million Years Ago, Before Modern Predators?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/04/010406074913.htm
Virginia Tech. "What Was Eating Clams And Brachiopods 250 Million Years Ago, Before Modern Predators?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/04/010406074913.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) — Stanford University wants to unlock the secrets of the player piano. Researchers are restoring and studying self-playing pianos and the music rolls that recorded major composers performing their own work. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Newsy (Dec. 16, 2014) — A group of scientists looked at the genetics behind the domestication of the horse and showed how human manipulation changed horses' DNA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) — A collection of rare manuscripts by composers Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet are due to go on sale at auction on December 17. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 15, 2014) — Researchers are looking to the past to gain a clearer picture of what the future holds for ice in the Arctic. A project to analyse and digitize ship logs dating back to the 1850's aims to lengthen the timeline of recorded ice data. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins