Abstract

New evidence of fossil macroborings in the Lower Ordovician (Ibexian) of western Utah demonstrates that the macroboring behavioral strategy was firmly established in the earliest stages of the great Ordovician diversification of the marine biosphere. In Utah, borings were excavated in hardgrounds that had developed on sponge-algal mounds and flat-pebble conglomerates in the Fillmore Formation (Ibexian). The most complete specimens possess a neck up to 1 cm in length that opens into a teardrop-shaped chamber with a maximum diameter of 1 cm. The chamber terminates at a depth of 3–4 cm below the hardground surface. These borings belong to the ichnogenus Gastrochaenolites. The organisms responsible for creating the borings are unknown. Sedimentologically, the effect of boring on hardgrounds was to break them into pebble- and cobble-sized clasts. The endolithic lifestyle represented by the borings may have evolved in response to ecologic pressures such as predation or competition for food resources. The macroborings from the Fillmore Formation represent an innovative strategy that may have resulted in the later development of new body plans and the early establishment of endolithic macroinvertebrates.

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