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Article: Evidence of predation damage in Pliocene Apletosia maxima (Brachiopoda)

Publication: Palaeontology
Volume: 48
Part: 1
Publication Date: January 2005
Page(s): 197 208
Author(s): Elizabeth M. Harper
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How to Cite

HARPER, E. M. 2005. Evidence of predation damage in Pliocene Apletosia maxima (Brachiopoda). Palaeontology48, 1, 197–208.

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Little is known about predation of Mesozoic and Cenozoic articulated brachiopods, but it is far from clear whether this is because they suffered very little predation pressure or because there have been few attempts to search for evidence of it. A study of 248 museum specimens of the large Pliocene terebratulid Apletosia maxima from the Coralline Crag (UK) has revealed that more than 16 per cent of them show evidence of having been attacked by predators. The styles of damage can be attributed to drilling muricid gastropods (most of which were successful) and failed crushing attacks probably by decapods. Brachiopods are usually thought to offer a poor tissue yield to potential predators, but in this instance it appears that A. maxima was attractive to predators even though they were living with a rich molluscan fauna. It is suggested that the mass of adductor and diductor muscles (likely to be spicule-free) of these particularly large brachiopods may have made them profitable. Further studies of post-Palaeozoic brachiopod faunas are required, particularly those from mixed shallow-water communities, before it can be established whether articulated brachiopods have or have not been driven into refugia by increasing predation pressure.
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