Soft-Bottom Epifaunal Suspension-Feeding Assemblages in the Late Cretaceous

Implications for the Evolution of Benthic Paleocommunities
  • David Jablonski
  • David J. Bottjer
Part of the Topics in Geobiology book series (TGBI, volume 3)


Over the course of the Phanerozoic, benthic marine paleocommunities have changed not only in their taxonomic composition but in their functional attributes. Certain paleocommunity types that once flourished over broad areas of the seafloor have since declined or vanished, while other paleocommunity types are relatively late arrivals in the history of marine life. As marine paleocology advances beyond its descriptive phase, these larger-scale temporal patterns are coming under increasing scrutiny as important facets in the history of life that have yet to be explained, or even well-documented. Here we discuss the history of one major paleocommunity type: epifaunal suspension-feeder dominated paleocommunities on soft substrata. Such paleocommunities were predominant in shelf seas throughout much of the Paleozoic and into the Mesozoic, but have been restricted in their distribution since the end of the Mesozoic. The decline of this paleocommunity type is not simply a fortuitous correlate of the history of a single taxon—at least four phyla have played key roles in such paleocommunities at different times in geologic history—but rather must be explained in broader terms that take into account the interplay between ecology and evolution.


Gulf Coast Trace Fossil Soft Substratum Benthic Assemblage Atlantic Coastal Plain 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Jablonski
    • 1
  • David J. Bottjer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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