Late Palaeozoic mollusc reproduction: cephalopod egg-laying behavior and gastropod larval palaeobiology




Royal H. Mapes [], Department of Geological Sciences, Ohio University, Athens 45701, U.S.A; Alexander Nützel [], Bayerische Staatssammlung für Paläontologie und Geologie, Richard Wagner Str. 10, 80333 München, Germany;


Faunal analysis of an oxygen-depleted marine Lower Carboniferous succession (Late Mississippian Ruddle Shale) suggests how some cephalopod taxa laid their eggs during the Late Palaeozoic. At the Ruddle Shale collecting site in Arkansas, USA, the facies and overall fauna suggest severe oxygen depletion at the sediment/water interface. The Ammonoidea, with their small egg size, were probably laid in suspended gelatinous egg-filled masses in the water column above the bottom or by attachment of the egg masses to floating debris. The ammonitella embryos developed within the suspended or attached egg mass; hatched individuals became part of the free-swimming plankton biota. Based on shell morphology the Bactritoidea probably followed the same reproductive pattern. Coiled nautiloids (the Nautilida) and most orthoconic nautiloids (mostly the Pseudorthocerida) probably did not lay their eggs in the mid water column or as floatant attachments. This conclusion is based on the fact that, with one exception, all shells recovered of these two nautiloid orders are well past hatching. Gastropods in the Ruddle Shale are very small and cannot be visually detected in the field. However, microgastropods are abundant in washed residues. Most specimens are much smaller than 1 mm. The largest caenogastropod specimen is 1.3 mm high. These caenogastropods represent isolated larval shells and a successful metamorphosis was impossible because of oxygen depletion on the bottom. Allegations that a size of more than 1 mm is too large for pelagic larvae are refuted by examples of planktotrophic larval shells of modern gastropods (more than 1 mm high) and Triassic caenogastropods (up to 2 mm high) from the Cassian Formation (Northern Italy, South Alps). Repository information is given for the type-material of the gastropod species Nuetzelina striata Bandel, 2002 and Anozyga arkansasensis Bandel, 2002 which were both erected based on specimens from the Ruddle Shale that were illustrated by Nützel & Mapes in 2001.