Stereotypic boring behaviour inferred from the earliest known octopod feeding traces: Early Eocene, southern England

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Abstract

Todd, JA. & Harper, EM. 2011: Stereotypic boring behaviour inferred from the earliest known octopod feeding traces: Early Eocene, southern England. Lethaia, Vol. 44, pp. 214–222.

A bulk sample of 267 disarticulated valves of the bivalve Venericor clarendonensis (Wood) collected from the Lower Eocene London Clay (southern UK) yielded 38 individuals that had been perforated by small drill holes (0.70–2.14 mm in outer diameter). These drill holes had more or less circular plan views, with slightly irregular openings, and taper as they pass through the valve, conforming to the ichnotaxon Oichnus simplex Bromley. They show stereotypic positioning, being concentrated in the posterior region on the prey, moreover there is remarkable preference for perforating the sites of muscle attachment (principally the posterior adductor). We consider the most likely culprits to be octopods. As such these are the oldest octopod drill holes yet recorded. They provide the only evidence of these important top predators in this shallow marine community and also demonstrate that the sophisticated predatory behaviour shown by modern octopods had been evolved by at least the Early Eocene. □Eocene, octopod behaviour, Oichnus, stereotypic boring.

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