Coprophagous Symbiosis

Poop eating gastropods are relatively rare in the Ordovician rocks of Central Kentucky, though they are better known from the Devonian. I pulled this Glyptocrinus sp and Cyclonema varicosum  from the Millersburg Mb. of the  Lexington Limestone in the spring of  ’86.


Lexington Lm

Millersburg Mb

Fayette Co. Ky.

The scale at the bottom of the photo is 1.00 in(2.54cm)


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8 Responses to “Coprophagous Symbiosis”

  1. Shamalama Says:

    Hey Tim! Lookit you putting a blog together. 🙂 I should do the same as I have way too much to just post on the forums. Speaking of which, You are missed at the Fossil Forum. I’ll shoot you an e-mail when I’ll next be in your area. Possibly around Memorial Day again like last year.

  2. Fossil Detective Says:

    That is a very nice find. I wonder if the snail served any benefit to the crinoid or was just an annoyance to it getting more food?

    Also have you ever found any crinoid calyx with Cornulites on them?

    Congratulations on starting a fossil blog. I look forward to reading your future posts.

  3. Solius Symbiosus Says:

    @ Fossil Detective wrote:

    I wonder if the snail served any benefit to the crinoid or was just an annoyance to it getting more food?

    Hi Mike. Yes, symbiosis is beneficial to both organisms. In crinoids, the mouth is located on the tegmen beside the anus, or below it, so coprophagous symbiosis helped to prevent re-ingestion of fecal material.

    Dave, I miss the place. I re-registered an account in an attempt to retrieve some photos that I deleted from my hard drive.

    Let me know when you are going to be in the area. I will take some time off so we hit some outcrops.

  4. Fossil Detective Says:

    Hi Solius,

    That makes sense that the snail was acting like a little sanitation worker for the crinoid.

    I found a paper from 2003 by Robert W. Morris of Wittenberg University & Stephen H. Felton of Cincinnati that focus on the symbiotic relationship between Cornulites and crinoids. It does mention that the Cornulites would sometimes attach to Cyclonema that were in turn attached to Glyptocrinus or Pycnocrinus. It looks the conclusion of the research is Cornulites liked to be off the sea floor to avoid muddy water.

    Have you found any Cornulites on crinoid stems or on the shells of the Cyclonema?

    • Solius Symbiosus Says:

      Mike, sorry for the late response, I just noticed your reply. I don’t think that I have found any attached to crinoids or Cyclonema. Usually, I find them on bryozoans and brachiopods, or occasionally, a bivalve. I will have to check through my collection and see what I come up with.

      EDIT: Your response sparked a memory. I met Dr. Morris back in the days before the internet. I had meant to send him some of my Cornulites, but I lost his address, and couldn’t remember where he worked. I think that I will send him an email, and see if he is still interested.

  5. Ben S. Says:

    Hey Tim,
    Nice blog/site! I am impressed, and it’s nice to see that old Ky. limestone again…
    Great job, brother!

  6. Solius Symbiosus Says:

    Its good to hear from you Ben. The next time you are in the area, look me up. I am still at the same place.

  7. Another Ordovician Trepostomate « Swimming The Ordovician Seas Says:

    […] The Tanglewood was deposited near shore and above wave base, so the fossils(what few are there) are generally very abraded and of poor quality. But occasionally, I find a lens of mudstone within the Tanglewood that preserves some nice critters. […]

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