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Brachiopods are small animals that live on the seafloor and are prominent in the Devonian fossil record from 420 to 360 million years ago. An interesting feature of some species is that large spines develop on their exterior surfaces and are thought to have evolved for defense against predators. Fortunately, this hypothesis can be tested by observing wound marks indicative of attempted predation as described by Zhang et al. (2011). In this study, I examined wound marks on fossils of the spiny brachiopod Atrypa rockfordensis and the spineless Atrypa devoniana. Results show that A. rockfordensis only experienced attacks at lengths smaller than 16mm whereas A. devoniana experienced attacks at all sizes. Furthermore, A. rockfordensis experienced significantly fewer attacks than A. devoniana, suggesting that certain predators may preferentially avoid A. rockfordensis. These findings provide evidence of attempted predation as a means of discerning interactions among organisms and are useful in understanding predator-prey interactions in ancient marine ecosystems.
University of Minnesota, Morris
Marine Biology | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology
Kokesh, Broc S., "The Influence of Spines on Predation of Devonian Brachiopods" (2015). Undergraduate Research Symposium 2015. 6.