Bioturbation in Burgess Shale-type Lagerstatten - Case study of trace fossil-body fossil association from the Kaili Biota (Cambrian Series 3), Guizhou, China

Jih-Pai Lin, Yuan-Long Zhao, Imran A. Rahman, Shuhai Xiao, Yue Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Cruziana, Gordia, Planolites, Rusophycus, and Trichophycus are common ichnological elements of the Kaili Biota New discoveries based on the examination of 323 specimens include eldoniids, echinoderms, trilobites, monoplacophorans, and non-biomineralizing arthropods that are associated with trace fossils. Based on the observed effects of bioturbation on the preservation of five different animal groups, it is clear that infaunal scavengers/deposit feeders were periodically active on the Kaili sea floor and were able to reach historic layers yielding exceptionally preserved fossils. In general, the average level of infaunal activity is absent to moderate (Ichnofabric Index [1]=1 to 3) in the Kaili substrate, by contrast, the "Phycodes beds" are completely disturbed by infaunal activity (1.1.=5) Observed burrow diameter ranges from diminutive (similar to 0.2 mm) to normal (up to 4.2 mm) Computed tomography allows us to visualize the precise geometry of the trace fossil-body fossil association in three dimensions. We concluded that although some Kaili infaunal animals could bore through the biommeralized echinoderms, they did not appear to have scavenged upon these echinoderms based on our three-dimensional reconstruction Furthermore, Kaili burrowers can reach the historic layers containing exceptionally preserved fossils without altering soft-tissue preservation On the other hand, we used conventional techniques to reveal that one burrow is filled with fecal pellets (100-200 mu m) at its terminal end. Because most burrows are filled with yellow/brown "coarse sediment", and because there is no compositional difference between the fecal pellets and the surrounding coarse sediment within the burrow, the origin of the yellow/brown "coarse sediment" is interpreted here as parautochthonous and/or autochthonous and as a result of sediment reworking by deposit (or suspension) feeders The relative scarcity of soft-part preservation in the Kaili Biota compared to the older Chengiiang Biota and the younger Burgess Shale Biota may be the result of post-burial bio-disturbance due to the relatively high intensity of local bioturbation It is plausible that oxygenation in deeper sediments (facilitated by bioturbation) allowed carcasses in the Kaili biota to undergo a more extensive period of 'normal' decay prior to final burial than in other Cambrian Konservat-Lagerstatten (C) 2010 Elsevier B V All rights reserved

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-256
Number of pages12
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2010


  • Cambrian
  • Ichnofossils
  • Fecal pellets
  • Sediment reworking
  • Konservat-Lagerstätten

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