The Zoophycos group of trace fossils is common in Carboniferous to recent marine strata and sediments, and is a common component of ichnofaunas in the Visean and Namurian stages of England and Wales. A review of new and published records indicates that it is often present in limestones and sandstones of Chadian to Arnsbergian age. Thereafter it is less common, and restricted to clastic rocks. There are no known records within Carboniferous strata above the lowest Westphalian. The form is most common and often abundant in limestones of the Yoredale facies in the upper Visean and lower Namurian stages of northern England, particularly so in northern Northumberland. Where detailed sedimentological data exist, they indicate that the organisms responsible for the Zoophycos group burrowed into unconsolidated carbonate substrate that was deposited under low accumulation rates, often affected by storm wave action and where seawater flow provided a nutrient supply. However, in mixed carbonate–clastic settings, the deep-tier nature of Zoophycos may indicate that the organism lived in overlying shallow-marine, clastic-dominated depositional environments and burrowed down into the carbonate substrate. The same may be true of siliciclastic depositional settings where the presence of Zoophycos in some sandstones may reflect the palaeoenvironment of the overlying, finer-grained transgressive marine (prodelta and distal mouth bar) deposits.
Supplementary material: A spreadsheet with details of Carboniferous records of Zoophycos group fossils from England, Wales, the Isle of Man and the North Sea is available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.4994636