Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments

, Volume 98, Issue 2, pp 205–223 | Cite as

Palaeoecology of Late Carboniferous encrusting chaetetids in North China

  • Yongli ZhangEmail author
  • Enpu Gong
  • Mark A. Wilson
  • Changqing Guan
  • Xiaohong Chen
  • Wentao Huang
  • Deng Wang
  • Zhuowei Miao
Original Paper


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.


Chaetetid Hard substrate Hardgrounds Late Carboniferous North China 



The financial support for this research was provided by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project Nos. 41202018 and 41572004), the Specialized Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education (Project No. 20110042120043) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Project No. N120401001). Support was also provided by the Luce Fund at The College of Wooster. Ron West provided important information about chaetetid taxonomy. We thank reviewers Olev Vinn and Stephen Kershaw for their valuable and helpful comments.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeologyNortheastern UniversityShenyangPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of GeologyThe College of WoosterWoosterUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeologyNortheastern University at QinhuangdaoQinhuangdaoPeople’s Republic of China

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