Major trophic links are reconstructed for the Vendian and Early Paleozoic. A hypothesis of the predominant development of extracorporeal or skin digestion in Vendian multicellular consumers is substantiated. The main food sources were algal-bacterial films, finely dispersed debris falling from the photic zone in cold shallow seas lacking a thermocline and debris on the surface of the sediment. Symbiosis with phototrophic and chemotrophic bacteria was widespread. Pelagic filtration and filtration of the near-bottom finely dispersed organic matter (including bacteria), and debris-feeding appeared when internal digestion became widespread in the Cambrian. These were supplemented in the Ordovician by feeding on the live phyto- and zooplankton in the water column one meter above the bottom. Before the Ordovician, feeding on live plankton and more so active predation on larger multicellular animals was the exception rather than the rule. The role of active predators in the biota did not become more important until the end of the Silurian. Mass morphogenesis among occurred multicellular animals as the amount and diversity of nutritional and/or spatial resources rapidly increased, while before that the lack of these was a limiting factor.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
L. E. Babcock, “Trilobite Malformations and the Fossil Record of Behavioral Asymmetry,” J. Paleontol. 67(2), 217–229 (1993).
L. E. Babcock and R. A. Robinson, “Preferences of Palaeozoic Predators,” Nature 337, 695–696 (1989).
R. K. Bambach, A. M. Bush, and D. H. Erwin, “Autecology and the Filling of Ecospace: Key Metazoan Radiations,” Palaeontology 50(Part 1), 1–22 (2007).
D. Bamford, “Epithelial Absorption In: Jangoux M. and J.M. Lawrence (eds.) Echinaterm Nutrition. A.A. Balkema, Ratterdam, 1966. P. 317–330.
G. Behrendt and A. Ruthmann, “The Cytoskeleton of the Fiber Cells of Trichoplax adhaerens (Placozoa),” Zoomorphology 106, 123–130 (1986).
D. B. Blake, “Adaptive Zones of the Class Asteroidea (Echinodermata),” Bull. Mar. Sci. 46(3), 701–718 (1990).
D. J. Bottjer and W. I. Ausich, “Phanerozoic Development of Tiering in Soft Substrate Suspension-Feeding Communities,” Paleobiology 12, 400–420 (1986).
D. J. Bottjer and M. E. Clapham, “Evolutionary Paleocology of Ediacaran Benthic Marine Animals” in Neoproteozoic Geobiology and Paleobiology, Ed. by S. Xiao and A.J. Kaufman (Springer, 2006), 91–114.
D. E. Briggs, D. H. Erwin, and F. J. Collier, The Fossils of the Burgess Shale (Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington DC, 1994).
N. J. Butterfield, “Plankton Ecology and the Proterozoic-Phanerozoic Transition,” Paleobiology 23, 247–262 (1997).
N. J. Butterfield, “Ecology and Evolution of Cambrian Plankton”, in The Ecology of the Cambrian Radiation, Ed. by A.Yu. Zhuravlev and R. Riding (Columbia University Press, New York, 2001a), 200–216.
N. J. Butterfield, “Cambrian Food Webs” in Palaebiology II, a Synthesis, Ed. by D.E.G. Briggs and P.R. Crowther (Blackwell Scietific, Oxford, 2001b), 40–43.
N. J. Butterfield, “Macroevolution and Macroecology through Deep Time,” Palaeontology 50(Part 1), 41–55 (2007).
P. Cloud and M. F. Glaessner, “The Ediacarian Period and System: Metazoa Inherit the Earth,” Science 217(4562), 783–792 (1982).
M. L. Droser, S. Jensen, and J. G. Gehling, “Trace Fossils and Substrates of the Terminal Proterozoic-Cambrian Transition: Implications for the Record of Early Bilaterians and Sediment Mixing,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 99, 12572–12576 (2002b).
M. A. Fedonkin, “Cold Water Cradle of Animal Life,” Paleontol. J. 30(6), 669–673 (1996).
M. A. Fedonkin, “Cold Outset of Animal Life,” Priroda, No. 9, 3–11 (2000).
M. A. Fedonkin, “The Origin of the Metazoa in the Light of the Proterozoic Fossil Record,” Paleontol. Res. 7(1), 9–41 (2003).
M. A. Fedonkin, A. Simonetta and A. Y. Ivantsov, New Data on Kimberella, the Vedndian Molusk-like Organism (White Sea Region, Russia): Palaeoecological and Evolutionary Implications in The Rise and Fall of the Ediacaran Biota (Geological Society Special Publication no. 286), Eds. by P. Vickers-Rich, P. Komarower, 157–179.
M. A. Fedonkin, Soft-Bodied Vendian Fauna and Its Place in the Evolution of Metazoa: Proceedings of the Paleontological Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Vol. 226 (Nauka, Moscow, 1987) [in Russian].
N. S. Gaevskaya, “The Main Problems in Studying the Food Resources and Feeding Habits of Fishes in Terms of the Major Biological Problems of Fish Industry,” in Trophology of Aquatic Animals: Results and Problems (Nauka, Moscow, 1973), pp. 18–37 [in Russian].
J. G. Gehling, “Earliest Known Echinoderm—A New Ediacaran Fossil from the Pound Subgroup of South Australia,” Alcheringa 11, 337–345 (1987).
M. F. Glaessner, The Dawn of Animal Life: A Biohistorical Study (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1984).
A. N. Golikov and O. A. Skarlato, “The Effect of Mussel Breeding in the White Sea on the Benthos in the Adjacent Waters,” Biol. Morya, No. 4, 68–73 (1979).
D. V. Grazhdankin and A. Seilacher, “Underground Vendobionta from Namibia,” Palaeontology 45, 57–78 (2002).
D. V. Grazhdankin and A. Y. Ivantsov, “Reconstructions of Biotopes of Ancient Metazoan of the Late Vendian White Sea Biota,” Paleontol. J. 30(6), 674–678 (1996).
K. G. Grell and G. Benwitz, “Die Ultrastructur von Trichoplax adhaerens F.E. Schulze,” Cytobiologie 4, 216–240 (1971).
K. G. Grell and G. Benwitz, “Erganzende Untersuchungen zur Ultrastructur von Trichoplax adhaerens F.E. Schulze (Placozoa),” Zoomorphology 98, 47–67 (1981).
A. V. Ivanov, “Trichoplax adhaerens—Phagocytella-Like Animal,” Zool. Zh. 52, 1117–1130 (1973).
D. L. Ivanov, V. V. Malakhov, and A. B. Tsetlin, “Fine-Structure Morphology and Ultrastructure of the Primitive Multicellular Organism Trichoplax sp.: 1. Morphology of Adult Individuals and Swarmers according to the Data of Scanning Electron Microscopy,” Zool. Zh., No. 59, 1765–1767 (1980).
A. Yu. Ivantsov, Feeding Traces of the Ediacaran Animals,” in Abstracts of the International Geological Congress (Oslo, 2008).
A. Yu. Ivantsov and Ya. E. Malakhovskaya, “Giant Traces of Vendian Animals,” Dokl. Akad. Nauk 385, 328–386 (2002) [Dokl. Earth Sci. 385, 618–622 (2002)].
K. M. Khailov, “Differences in the Use of Carbon of Different Physical and Chemical Forms of Food for the Biosynthesis and Growth of Marine Invertebrates,” in Proceedings of the Symposium on the Energy Aspects of Growth and Metabolism of Aquatic Invertebrates (Sevastopol, 9–11 October 1972) (Naukova Dumka, Kiev, 1972), pp. 222–224 [in Russian].
V. I. Kholodov, Transformation of Organic Matter by Sea Urchins (Regularia) (Naukova Dumka, Kiev, 1981) [in Russian].
A. H. Knoll, E. J. Javaux, D. Hewitt, and P. Cohen, “Eucariotic Organisms in Proterozoic Oceans,” Philos. Trans. R. Soc., Biol. Sci. 361(1470), 1023–1038 (2006).
R. Lasker and A. C. Giese, “Nutrition of the Sea Urchin Strongilocentrorus droebachiensis,” Biol. Bull. 106, 328–340 (1954).
N. A. Latyshev, A. S. Khardin, and S. I. Kiyashko, “Fatty Acids as Markers of Starfish Food Sources,” Dokl. Akad. Nauk 380(5), 711–713 (2001) [Dokl. Biol. Sci. 380 (5), 489–491 (2001)].
J. M. Lawrence, Digestion. In: M. Jangoux and J. M. Lawrence (eds.) Echinoderm Nutrition. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, 1982. P. 283–316.
J. H. Lipps and J. W. Valentine, “Late Neoproterozoic Metazoa: Weird, Wonderful, and Ghostly,” in Neoproterozoic-Cambrian Biological Revolution, Ed. by J.H. Lipps and B.M. Waggoner (Paleontol. Soc. Pap. 10, New Haven, 2004), pp. 51–66.
V. V. Malakhov and L. P. Nezlin, “Trichoplax—A Living Model of the Origin of Multicellular Organisms,” Priroda (Moscow, Russ. Fed.), No. 3, 32–41 (1983).
G. M. Narbonne, “Modular Construction of Early Ediacaran Complex Life Forms,” Science 305, 1141–1144 (2004).
I. L. Okshtein, “A Contribution to Biology of Trichoplax sp. (Placozoa),” Zool. Zh. 66, 339–347 (1987).
E. Pequignat, “Some New Data on Skin-Digestion and Absorption in Urchins and Sea Stars (Asterias and Henricia),” Mar. Biol. 12(1), 28–41 (1972).
K. J. Peterson, “Macroevolutionary Interplay between Planktonic Larvae and Benthic Predators,” Geology, No. 33, 929–932 (2005).
K. J. Peterson, B. Waggoner, and J. W. Hagadorn, “A Fungal Analog for Newfoundland Ediacaran Fossils,” Integr. Comp. Biol. 43, 127–136 (2003).
A. G. Ponomarenko, Principal events in the Evolution of the Ancient Biosphere, in: Problems of Pre-antropogenic Evolution of Biosphere, Nauka, Moscow, 1993, 15–25 [in Russian].
A. G. Ponomarenko, Ecological Concequence of Artropodization, in: Ecosystem Restructures and the Evolution of Biosphere, 6, Palaeontological Institute RAS, Moscow, 2004, 7–22 [in Russian].
C. L. Prosser and F. A. Brown, Comparative Animal Physiology (W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia-London, 1962).
R. A. Raff, “Origins of the Other Metazoan Body Plans: The Evolution of Larval Forms,” Philos. Trans. R. Soc. London B. 363, 1473–1479 (2008).
S. P. Robson and B. R. Pratt, “Predation of Late Marjuman (Cambrian) Linguliformean Brachiopods from the Deadwood Formation of South Dacota, USA,” Lethaia 40(1), 19–32 (2007).
D. J. Ross, R. Johnson, and C. L. Hewitt, “Impact of Introduced Seastars Asterias amurensis on Survivorship of Juvenile Commercial Bivalves Fulvia temicostata,” Mar. Ecol. Progr., Ser. 5, 241, 99–112 (2002).
A. Yu. Rozanov, Bacterial Paleontology, Sedimentogenesis, and Early Stages of the Evolution of the Biosphere, in Modern Problems of Geology (Proceedings of the Geologic Institute), Ed. by Yu. O. Gavrilov and M. D. Khutorskoi (Nauka, Moscow, 2004), pp. 448–462 [in Russian].
A. Yu. Rozanov, “Precambrian Geobiology,” Paleontol. J. 40(Suppl. 4), S434–S443 (2006).
S. V. Rozhnov, Evolution of the Hardground Community, in: The Ecology of the Cambrian Radiation, Ed. by A. Yu. Zhuravlev, R. Riding, Colombia University Press, New York, 2001, 238–253.
S. V. Rozhnov, “Morphogenesis and Evolution of Crinoids and Other Pelmatozoan Echinoderms in the Early Paleozoic,” Paleontol. J. 36,(Suppl. 6), S525–S674 (2002).
S. V. Rozhnov, “Appearance and Evolution of Marine Benthic Communities in the Early Palaeozoic,” Paleontol. J. 40(Suppl. 4), S444–S452 (2006).
S. V. Rozhnov, “Origin of Echinoderms in the Palaeozoic Evolutionary Fauna: Ecological Aspects,” Acta Palaeontol. Sin. 46,(Suppl. 1), 416–421 (2007a).
S. V. Rozhnov, “New Data on Perittocrinids and Hybocrinids (Crinoidea, Echinodermata) from the Middle Ordovician of the Baltic Region,” Ann. Palěontol. 93(4), 261–276 (2007b).
S. V. Rozhnov, “The Evolution of the Trophic Structure of Marine Communities in the Vendian and Early Paleozoic,” in International Conference “Development of Early Paleozoic Biodiversity: Role of Biotic and Abiotic Factors, and Event Correlation” (Russia, 26–28 June, 2008, Moscow) (KMK Sci. Press. Moscow, 2008a), pp. 84–89 [in Russian].
S. V. Rozhnov, “Establishment of Trophic Structure in Communities of the Late Precambrian and Early Paleozoic Epicontinental Seas,” in European Geological Union General Assembly 2008, Geophys. Res. Abstr. 10, (2008b).
S. V. Rozhnov, “The Role of Heterochrony in the Establishment of the Body Plans of Higher Echinoderm Taxa,” Biol. Bull. 36, 117–127 (2009).
S. V. Rozhnov and A. Yu. Ivantzov, “Echinoderm-Like Fossils from the White Sea (Russia): Problems of Identification,” in Abstracts of 21ème Rěunion des Sciences de la Terre (Dijon, 2006), p. 40.
S. V. Rozhnov and A. Yu. Ivantsov, “Problems of Identification of the Vendian Echinoderms,” in The Rise and Fall of the Vendian (Ediacaran) Biota. Origin of the Modern Biosphere (Transaction of the International Conference on the IGCP Project 493) (Geos, Moscow, 2007), pp. 21–27.
A. Seilacher, “The Meaning of the Cambrian Explosion,” Bull. Natl. Mus. Nat. Sci., No. 10, 1–9 (1997).
A. Seilacher, “Vendozoa: Organismic Construction in the Proterozoic Biosphere,” Lethaia 22, 229–239 (1989).
A. Seilacher, “The Nature of Vendobionts,” in The Rise and Fall of the Ediacaran Biota (Geological Society Special Publications, No. 286), Ed. by P. Vickers-Rich and P. Komarower (2007), pp. 387–397.
A. Seilacher and F. Pfluger, “From Biomats to Benthic Agriculture: A Biohistoric Revolution,” in Biostabilization of Sediments, Ed. by W. E. Krumbein et al. (Bibliotheks und Informationsystem der Univ. Oldenburg, Oldenburg, 1994), pp. 97–105.
A. Seilacher, D. Grazhdankin, and A. Legouta, “Ediacaran Biota: The Dawn of Animal Life in the Shadow of Giant Protists,” Paleontol. Res. 7(1), 43–54 (2003).
J. J. Sepkoski, Jr., “A Factor Analytic Description of the Phanerozoic Marine Fossil Record,” Paleobiology 7, 36–53, (1981).
L. N. Seravin, “The Role of the Oral Lobes in the Nutrition and Digestion of the Scyphozoan Jellyfish Cyanea capillata (L.),” Dokl. Akad. Nauk SSSR 321, 1301–1303 (1991).
L. N. Seravin and Z. P. Gerasimova, “Fine-Structure Features of a Trichoplax, Trichoplax adhaerens, Feeding on a Solid Plant Substrates,” Tsitologiya 30, 1188–1193 (1998).
L. N. Seravin and A. V. Gudkov, Trichoplax adhaerens (Phylum Placozoa)—One of the Most Primitive Multicellular Animals (Handbook for Biology Students) (Tessa, St. Petersburg, 2005).
E. A. Serezhnikova, “Vendian Attachment Disks as Symbiotrophic Structures,” in The Rise and Fall of the Vendian (Ediacaran) Biota. Origin of the Modern Biosphere (Transaction of the International Conference on the IGCP Project 493) (Geos, Moscow, 2007), pp. 28–33.
E. Serezhnikova, “Bacterial Symbiosis: The Driver for Morphological Peculiarities of the Vendian Organisms?,” in Abstracts of the International Geological Congress (Oslo, 2008).
T. Servais, O. Lehnert, J. Li, et al., “The Ordovician Biodiversification: Revolution in the Oceanic Trophic Chain,” Lethaia 41, 99–109 (2008).
P. V. Signor and G. J. Vermeij, “The Plankton and the Benthos: Origin and Early History of an Evolving Relationship,” Paleobiology, No. 20, 297–319 (1994).
O. A. Skarlato, Bivalve Mollusks of the Temperate Waters of the Northwestern Part of the Pacific Ocean (Nauka, Leningrad, 1981) [in Russian].
B. S. Sokolov, “The Vendian Complex (Vendian) and the Problem of the Precambrian-Paleozoic Group Boundary,” in Precambrian Geology (Nauka, Moscow, 1964), pp. 135–150 [in Russian].
M. N. Sokolova, “On the Nutrition of Some Species of Starfishes of the Family Astropectinidae,” in “Composition and Distribution of Benthic Invertebrates in the Seas of Russia and Adjacent Waters,” (Inst. Okeanol. Ross. Akad. Nauk, 1997), pp. 45–51.
Yu. I. Sorokin, Ecosystems of Coral Reefs. (Nauka, Moscow, 1990) [in Russian].
E. A. Tsikhon-Lukanina and G. G. Nikolaeva, “Nutrition of the Starfishes Asterina pectinifera and Asterias amurensis (Echinodermata, Asteroidea) in the Waters of Peter the Great Bay (the Sea of Japan),” Zool. Zh. 80(10), 1231–1236 (2007).
J. Vannier and J. Chen, “Early Cambrian Food Chain: New Evidence from Fossil Aggregates in the Maotianshan Shale Biota, SW China,” Palaios 20(1), 3–26 (2003).
B. M. Waggoner, “Interpreting the Earliest Metazoan Fossils: What Can We Learn?,” Am. Zool. 38, 9 (1998).
H. Wenderoth, “Transepithelial Cytophagy by Trichoplax adhaerens F.E. Schulze (Placozoa) Feeding on Yeast,” Z. Naturforsch. 41, 343–347 (1986).
B. West, “Utilisation of Dissolved Glucose and Amino Acids by Leptometra phalangium,” Sci. Proc. R. Dublin Soc. A 6, 77–85 (1978).
H. Xian-Guang, R. J. Aldridge, J. Bergstrom, et al., The Cambrian Fossils of Chengjiang, China. The Flowering of Early Animal Life (Blackwell Publ., 2004).
G. A. Zavarzin, Phenotypic Systematics of Bacteria: Space of Logical Possibilities (Nauka, Moscow, 1974) [in Russian].
G. A. Zavarzin, Lectures on Natural-History Microbiology (Nauka, Moscow, 2003) [in Russian].
G. A. Zavarzin, “Microbial Cycles,” in Global Ecology. Vol. (3) of Encyclopedia of Ecology, Ed. by S.E. Jorgensen and Brian D. Fath (Elsevier, Oxford, 2008), pp. 2335–2341.
About this article
Cite this article
Rozhnov, S.V. Development of the trophic structure of Vendian and Early Paleozoic marine communities. Paleontol. J. 43, 1364–1377 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1134/S0031030109110021
- trophic structure
- Early Paleogoic
- marine communities