The earliest fossil evidence of bone boring by terrestrial invertebrates, examples from China and South Africa

Xing, Lida, Parkinson, Alexander H., Ran, Hao, Pirrone, Cecilia A., Roberts, Eric M., Zhang, Jianping, Burns, Michael E., Wang, Tao, and Choiniere, Jonah (2016) The earliest fossil evidence of bone boring by terrestrial invertebrates, examples from China and South Africa. Historical Biology, 28 (8). pp. 1108-1117.

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We report the oldest fossil evidence of osteophagia by terrestrial invertebrates on both the Asian and African continents. Bones attributable to the Middle Jurassic dinosaur Chuanjiesaurus (Dinosauria: Sauropoda) were found with post-mortem insect modification in the Chuanjie Formation, Yunnan Province, China. The morphology of the borings closely matches the ichnogenus Cubiculum. Based on the lack of bioglyphs observed in Cubiculum ornatus, a new ichnospecies is proposed here. The new trace fossil, Cubiculum inornatus isp. nov., is interpreted to have been constructed for pupation by an unknown taxon of insect. Additionally, we report even older borings from Early Jurassic dinosaur bones of the Elliott Formation in the Karoo Basin, which represent the second oldest occurrence of insect traces in bone from continental settings. Both trace fossils sites have palaeogeographic implications for the origins and dispersal of osteophagia amongst terrestrial invertebrates during the Mesozoic. These discoveries push back the antiquity of pupation in animal bones by more than 100 million years to the Middle Jurassic, indicating that this behaviour, and osteophagy more generally, originated early in the Mesozoic, roughly comparable with the origination of insect pupation in woody substrates (Late Triassic).

Item ID: 47099
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1029-2381
Keywords: insect trace, Cubiculum, Jurassic, Chuanjie Formation, Elliot Formation
Funders: China University of Geosciences (CUG), DST & NRF Centre of Palaeosciences, South African National Research Foundation (NRF), University of Witwatersrand
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2016 07:37
FoR Codes: 37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3705 Geology > 370506 Palaeontology (incl. palynology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970104 Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences @ 100%
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