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Abstract

Shallow-water foramol limestones have been studied from a locality in the southern Apennines in which outcrop conditions show an excellent overview of the lateral and vertical evolution of rudist bodies and allow their geometry and the dynamic aspects to be reconstructed. The lithofacies suggest open depositional settings characterized by peloidal silty-muddy sediments. Rudists inhabited well-defined sectors of these shelves, giving rise to wide biostromal bodies, and supplied most of the skeletal debris via bioerosion and minor physical breakdown. In particular, the characteristics of rudist lithosomes document the existence of a complex network of channel-like depressions. In such a depositional context, the evolution of rudist lithosomes was controlled by the environmental hydrodynamic conditions. The resulting composite rudist assemblages are characterized by often-toppled individuals, suggesting continuous sediment removal between the organisms. The good preservation of the shells and the common articulation of the valves, however, point to an absence of sustained transport but rather a slight sediment destabilization. The gross lenticular geometry of the shell beds could be related to the above-mentioned patterns of weak, perhaps channelized, pathways. In such a depositional context, rudist colonization on channel margins assumes particular importance as it documents the rudist ability to exploit a wide array of environments, comparable to that of oysters in Recent seas, and reflecting the probable opportunistic nature of rudists.

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