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Article

Polyplacophoran Feeding Traces on Mediterranean Pliocene Sirenian Bones: Insights on the Role of Grazing Bioeroders in Shallow-Marine Vertebrate Falls

1
Dipartimento Scienze della Terra, Università di Pisa, Via S. Maria 53, 56126 Pisa, Italy
2
Museo di Storia Naturale, Università di Pisa, Via Roma 79, 56011 Calci, Italy
3
Gruppo Avis Mineralogia e Paleontologia Scandicci, Piazza Vittorio Veneto 1, 50018 Badia a Settimo, Italy
4
Studio Tecnico Geologia e Paleontologia, Via Fratelli Rosselli 4, 50026 San Casciano Val di Pesa, Italy
5
Istituto Comprensivo “Vasco Pratolini”, Via Guglielmo Marconi 11, 50018 Scandicci, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Life 2023, 13(2), 327; https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020327
Received: 3 January 2023 / Revised: 18 January 2023 / Accepted: 20 January 2023 / Published: 24 January 2023
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Research on Palaeontology)

Abstract

Chitons (Polyplacophora) include some of the most conspicuous bioeroders of the present-day shallow seas. Abundant palaeontological evidence for the feeding activity of ancient chitons is preserved in the form of radular traces that are usually found on invertebrate shells and hardgrounds. We report on widespread grazing traces occurring on partial skeletons of the extinct sirenian Metaxytherium subapenninum from the Lower Pliocene (Zanclean) of Arcille (Grosseto Province, Tuscany, Italy). These distinctive ichnofossils are described under the ichnotaxonomic name Osteocallis leonardii isp. nov. and interpreted as reflecting substrate scraping by polyplacophorans. A scrutiny of palaeontological literature reveals that similar traces occur on fossil vertebrates as old as the Upper Cretaceous, suggesting that bone has served as a substrate for chiton feeding for more than 66 million years. Whether these bone modifications reflect algal grazing, carrion scavenging or bone consumption remains unsure, but the first hypothesis appears to be the most parsimonious, as well as the most likely in light of the available actualistic data. As the role of bioerosion in controlling fossilization can hardly be overestimated, further research investigating how grazing organisms contribute to the biostratinomic processes affecting bone promises to disclose new information on how some marine vertebrates manage to become fossils.
Keywords: biostratinomy; chitons; ichnotaxonomy; Metaxytherium subapenninum; Osteocallis leonardii isp. nov.; palaeoichnology; Pascichnia; Radulichnus; taphonomy; Zanclean biostratinomy; chitons; ichnotaxonomy; Metaxytherium subapenninum; Osteocallis leonardii isp. nov.; palaeoichnology; Pascichnia; Radulichnus; taphonomy; Zanclean

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MDPI and ACS Style

Collareta, A.; Merella, M.; Casati, S.; Di Cencio, A.; Tinelli, C.; Bianucci, G. Polyplacophoran Feeding Traces on Mediterranean Pliocene Sirenian Bones: Insights on the Role of Grazing Bioeroders in Shallow-Marine Vertebrate Falls. Life 2023, 13, 327. https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020327

AMA Style

Collareta A, Merella M, Casati S, Di Cencio A, Tinelli C, Bianucci G. Polyplacophoran Feeding Traces on Mediterranean Pliocene Sirenian Bones: Insights on the Role of Grazing Bioeroders in Shallow-Marine Vertebrate Falls. Life. 2023; 13(2):327. https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020327

Chicago/Turabian Style

Collareta, Alberto, Marco Merella, Simone Casati, Andrea Di Cencio, Chiara Tinelli, and Giovanni Bianucci. 2023. "Polyplacophoran Feeding Traces on Mediterranean Pliocene Sirenian Bones: Insights on the Role of Grazing Bioeroders in Shallow-Marine Vertebrate Falls" Life 13, no. 2: 327. https://doi.org/10.3390/life13020327

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