Destruction of a Late Devonian ophiuroid assemblage: A victim of changing ecology at the Catskill delta front
Daniel B. Sass, Robert A. Condrate, 1985. "Destruction of a Late Devonian ophiuroid assemblage: A victim of changing ecology at the Catskill delta front", The Catskill Delta, Donald L. Woodrow, William D. Sevon
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The fossilized remains of an isolated but once-thriving assemblage of the brittle starfish Furcaster cf. F. leptosoma(?) (Salter, 1857) record a singular event in the succession of late Devonian (Famennian?) marine life. In similar cases of fossil starfish mortality reported elsewhere, the cause of death was cited as suffocation due to rapid burial. In order to construct a paradigm which reflects the circumstances before and after the destruction of the assemblage in question, trace elements in the rock matrix were analyzed and correlated with neontologic data relative to important elements of the community and its environment.
The circumstantial evidence points to burial as the ultimate factor in the death of the starfish. They were probably doomed by a series of subtle changes, of which they were not aware, taking place at the front of the delta they inhabited. The changes, hydrologic in nature, were instrumental in dulling the instincts of the starfish and preventing their escape from burial.