The fossil record of shell boring by snails

American Zoologist



The predatory boring habit common to many recent snails probably arose first in the Polinicinae (Naticacea) during Upper Cretaceous (Cenomanian) times (100 million years B.P.) . In the fossil record the frequency of bored shells increases greatly in rocks of latest Cretaceous age and becomes more widespread during early Tertiary times coincident with the major diversification of the primary groups of boring snails.

The borings in these Cretaceous and Tertiary shells show the same characteristics of preference of penetration in one pelecypod valve rather than the other or in position of the boring site on the shell that are found in recent shell assemblages.

Borings in Paleozoic brachiopod shells (230–550 million years old) that have previously been attributed to gastropod predation are herein attributed to other but unknown boring organisms.

In part these borings are not accepted as evidence of Paleozoic gastropod predation because it necessitates: (1) Postulation of the separate development of a boring habit with its concomitant development of an accessory boring organ in a group whose descendants are all herbivores, and (2) The development of such a habit hundreds of millions of years before the appearance of any relatives of present day borers.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The fossil record of shell boring by snails
Series title American Zoologist
DOI 10.1093/icb/9.3.725
Volume 9
Issue 3
Year Published 1969
Language English
Publisher American Society of Zoologists
Contributing office(s) Paleontology
Description 10 p.
First page 725
Last page 734
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details