Traces of unsuccessful predatory attacks can be found in the hard parts of shell-bearing organisms as repaired shell injuries and are often preserved in the fossil record. These repaired shell injuries can help to deduce the relationship between predator and prey in the past. Gastropods afford an excellent opportunity for study since their shells are easily recognized from the Cambrian onwards, and usually preserve a full record of their life history. Predation is a phenomenon which has led to a great variety of adaptations among prey organisms in their quest to avoid being eaten. Increased predation pressure seems to have been one of the factors that has fueled the evolution of predation-resistant shell morphologies.
Individual case studies examine the frequency of shell repair in assemblages of Palaeozoic gastropods from different geological periods. The Silurian species Poleumita discors showed a shell repair frequency of 10 %, while only 4 % of the Devonian species Praenatica gregaria have been repaired. The Palaeozoic bilaterally symmetrical bellorphontiform molluscs also showed low levels of shell repair.
Similar shell morphologies in the long-lived group of pleurotomarioid gastropods were examined and shell repair frequenceis calculated to investigate potential variation through geological time. The Palaeozoic species showed repair frequencies of 17.1 % and 4.2 %. The frequency increased in the Mesozoic to between 28.8 % and 46.6 %, while all shells of Recent pleurotomarioids in the study showed repaired injuries. The repaired injuries found do not change in appearance through time, which is probably a reflection of the presence of the slit in the apertural margin. Which type of injury is the most abundant can be seen to change with time, and there is also an increase in size with time. This may be a defensive strategy taken up by the pleurotomarioids as a response to more abundant predators.