The calcite skeletons of trepostome bryozoan colonies from the Upper Ordovician (Katian) of the Cincinnati region record the diverse interactions and growth responses these colonies experienced. Trepostome specimens from three Cincinnatian strata; the Bellevue Member, the Bull Fork Formation, and the Whitewater Formation, were studied within this project. These three strata were deposited in a shallow epicontinental sea environment that was located in the southern subtropics, approximately 20-23°S at the time of deposition. The focus of this project was the paleoecology of large trepostome bryozoans, which was studied by examining bryozoan growth patterns, trace fossils, and sedimentation. Microscopic examination of these features was conducted by sectioning colonies and making acetate peels and thin sections. Through this examination many trace fossils were found, with Trypanites borings being the most common. These borings often contained calcite "ghosts" and appear to have been excavated mechanically by a worm such as a sipunculan or phoronid. A subset of the observed borings prompted growth reactions in their host bryozoan, indicating that these borings progressed through a live portion of the colony. Growth reactions served to seal the cavity and regain feeding surfaces by: (1) Zooids surrounding the cavity growing upwards and angling inwards, creating a “tent” with the cavity closed off; (2) Zooids growing laterally over the cavity opening, sealing it off with a flat “roof”; or (3) Zooids budding down into the cavity then angling upwards, filling in all open space and resuming a feeding surface above. Other features observed in the trepostomes studied include calcite tubes, which are interpreted as fossil cornulitids; a tube and holdfast, interpreted as a sphenothallid; and prismatic calcite features, which are interpreted as the remains of aragonitic shells. All colonies and trace fossils included in this study were infilled with one or more of: sparry calcite cement, dolomite rhombs, biosparite, micrite, prismatic calcite, and phosphate. This range of infilling materials suggests that infilling processes were episodic. The episodic nature of these processes allowed for the preservation of ghosts and occasionally geopetal structures. Internal surfaces were observed that indicated regions of self-overgrowth in the colony. These self-overgrowths were commonly associated with brown bodies. Work continues to combine insights provided by the trace fossils, growth responses, and infill observed in the Cincinnatian trepostomes to interpret the ecology and life modes of these bryozoans.


Wilson, Mark


Earth Sciences; Geology


Paleobiology | Paleontology | Stratigraphy

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar


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