Well-preserved encrusting chaetetids are widespread and easily observed in limestones of the Benxi Formation (Moscovian, Upper Carboniferous) in the Benxi area, eastern Liaoning Province, North China. Chaetetids and colonial corals were the framework-building organisms, with chaetetids as the most common fossils in several small-scale reefs of the study area. The common types of hard substrate encrusted by chaetetids include in situ carbonate hardgrounds, carbonate hardground clasts, calcareous bioclasts and coral skeletons. We have observed lamellar, low domical (mini-domal) and anastomosing lamellar chaetetid morphologies in this fauna. Chaetetids with thin, spreading lamellae are the most common growth forms. Chaetetids employed peripheral, medial and mixed growth strategies to occupy sufficient living space on the substrates. They favoured a shallow, warm and clear marine environment within the photic zone. Chaetetids were later usually smothered by sediments. The chaetetid fossil communities in the Benxi area have a relatively high species diversity, which is not typical of hard substrate marine communities in the Carboniferous. The most common spatial relationship between competing encrusters on hard substrates is the growth of one over the other in the study region. Chaetetids were superior competitors for hard substrate attachment space. This palaeoecological study of chaetetids offers a new example for encrusting organisms on hard substrates of the Carboniferous of China. This research may aid in studying other colonised substrates of the Late Carboniferous.
Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 20, 2017
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