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Identification of the Architectural and Surficial Burrow Morphologies of Ancient Lungfish and Crayfish Burrows: Their Importance to Ichnology


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Author Hasiotis S T


Lungfish and crayfish inhabit continental
ecosystems similar to those of their ancient
counterparts in the Permian (lungfish) and Triassic
(crayfish) Periods, exhibiting similar burrowing
behaviors to live, breed, and escape desiccation.
Identification of their burrows in the geologic
record when body fossils are absent has relied on
the overall gross morphology of the burrows and the
process of elimination. A method of burrow
identification has been developed by evaluating
burrow structures in an attempt to designate
architectural and surficial burrow morphologies
that uniquely reflect the distinctive burrowing
mechanism of a particular organism. The
information from this method defines the burrowing
signatures of an organism, enabling the
differentiation of their burrows even when fossil
evidence is lacking.
The lungfish constructed simple, vertical
burrows with bulbous terminations. The burrow
walls exhibit fine, horizontal to sub-horizontal
striae and vertical to sub-vertical striae near the
top of the bulbous terminus, reflecting a burrowing
style similar to modern burrowing lungfish. The
crayfish constructed simple, vertical burrows to
complex burrows with multiple branching and chamber
development. The burrow surface ornamentations
exhibit horizontal to sub-horizontal ridges,
vertical to sub-vertical groupings of scratches,
mud- and lag-liners, knobby and hummocky textures,
and body impressions, which reflect the burrowing
mechanism of the crayfish.