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Cambrian carnage: Trilobite predator-prey interactions in the Emu Bay Shale of South Australia
Univ New England, Palaeoscience Res Ctr, Sch Environm & Rural Sci, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.;Univ New England, Sch Environm & Rural Sci, Funct Evolut & Anat Res Lab, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia..
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Palaeobiology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8804-2149
Univ Cambridge, Dept Zool, Downing St, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, Cambridgeshire, England..
Univ Adelaide, Sch Biol Sci, North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.;South Australian Museum, North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia..
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2022 (English)In: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, ISSN 0031-0182, E-ISSN 1872-616X, Vol. 591, article id 110877Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Cambrian explosion represents the rapid emergence of complex marine ecosystems on Earth. The propagation of predator-prey interactions within these systems was almost certainly one of the major drivers of this evolutionary event, sparking an arms race that promoted the proliferation of biomineralised exoskeletons and shells, and the evolution of the first durophagous (shell-crushing) predators. The most commonly documented evidence of Cambrian durophagous predation comes from injured trilobites. However, quantitative analysis based on multiple specimens from single localities is lacking. Such studies are required to reveal the dynamics of ancient predator-prey systems at fine ecological scales (e.g. at the population or community level). This study documents injured specimens of two trilobite species, Redlichia takooensis and Redlichia rex, from the Emu Bay Shale Konservat-Lagersta center dot tte (Cambrian Series 2, Stage 4) on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. A total of 38 injured specimens exhibiting various healed cephalic and thoracic injuries are documented, in addition to the mangled remains of two individuals that probably resulted from the activities of a durophagous predator or scavenger. Specimens of both species show that most injuries are located on the posterior portion of the thorax, indicating that predators preferentially attacked from behind and/or prey individuals presented the posterior of the trunk towards the predator when threatened or fleeing. The larger sample of injured R. takooensis shows that while unilateral injuries are more common than bilateral ones, there is no evidence for a left-or right-side bias, contrasting with previous suggestions that Cambrian trilobites exhibit right-sided injury stereotypy. Comparing the position of injured and non-injured R. takooensis and R. rex in bivariate space, we illustrate that injured specimens of both species typically represent some of the largest individuals of these taxa. This suggests that smaller individuals were completely consumed during an attack and/or larger individuals were more likely to survive an attack and thus record a healed injury. We argue that R. rex, rather than radiodonts, was likely the chief producer of exoskeletal injuries and large shelly coprolites in the Emu Bay Shale biota, and represents one of the earliest cannibalistic trilobites.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier BV Elsevier, 2022. Vol. 591, article id 110877
Keywords [en]
Cambrian, Predation, Durophagy, Trilobites, Emu Bay Shale, Redlichia takooensis, Redlichia rex
National Category
Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-474874DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2022.110877ISI: 000792073000001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-474874DiVA, id: diva2:1660987
Funder
Australian Research Council, LP0774959Australian Research Council, FT120100770Australian Research Council, DP200102005Australian Research Council, FT130101329Available from: 2022-05-25 Created: 2022-05-25 Last updated: 2024-01-15Bibliographically approved

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Holmes, James D.

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