Abstract

Specimens of the polyplacophoran mollusk ‘Helminthochitonthraivensis Reed from the Upper Ordovician of southwest Scotland provide rare examples of complete valve series preserved in near life position, albeit as external molds. Application of high-resolution X-ray microtomography to one such specimen has revealed the exceptional preservation of its last meal, which included elements of a crinoid column, in its intestine. The interaction was either predatory or scavenging; extant chitons are not known to be crinoidivorous. This is the earliest direct record of predation or scavenging on crinoids in the fossil record. It is also the first indication that the broad axial canal of primitive crinoids may have contained nutritious tissues. The predatory or scavenging habit of H. thraivensis is consistent with its inferred phylogenetic position as a stem-group aplacophoran and provides new data suggesting an origin of carnivory early in the evolution of this clade.

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