• echinoids;
  • chemoherms;
  • Late Jurassic;
  • south-east France;
  • taxonomy;
  • palaeoecology

Abstract:  The infaunal irregular echinoid, Tithonia oxfordiana, is described and compared to congeneric species previously described from Upper Jurassic and lowermost Cretaceous strata. This new species characterizes a monospecific echinoid assemblage, which occurs only in some places where deep-marine middle Oxfordian deposits are exposed in south-east France. Specimens are closely packed and clearly concentrated at the top of small carbonate chemoherms; a close connection of the echinoids with the emission of reduced chemicals, which were oxidized by chemoautotrophic bacteria, is highly probable. Based on general test shape and plate architecture, T. oxfordiana probably was a deposit feeder on chemosynthetic organic matter produced by such bacteria. In view of the fact that T. oxfordiana is the sole species of the Jurassic genus Tithonia known from Oxfordian strata, it is postulated that chemoherms possibly acted as refugia for these peculiar echinoids, which have an episodic record between the Callovian and Valanginian.