The Mesozoic fossil record of chemosynthesis-based communities

Knowledge of the fossil record of chemosynthesis-based communities has significantly increased in recent years. The fossil record shows that the Mesozoic was a crucial time for development of these communities. Many of the animals typically associated with modern hydrocarbon seeps, hydrothermal vents, and wood- and large vertebrate-falls appeared in the Late Jurassic to the Late Cretaceous. The oldest Mesozoic hydrocarbon seep association is dated to the Late Triassic and, like its counterpart from the Early Jurassic, is dominated by dimerelloid brachiopods. Other fossils in both associations are only subordinate and represented by poorly preserved bivalves and gastropods. Dimerelloid brachiopods continue to dominate in several seep settings until the mid-Cretaceous when its last representative Peregrinella went extinct. Several groups of infaunal bivalves have been identified in seep deposits from the Late Jurassic. Lucinids, solemyids and thyasirids are present in such communities from the Late Jurassic to the Recent. Epifaunal/semi-infaunal bivalves in the Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous are represented by the carditid Caspiconcha, which has not been recorded since the Campanian (Late Cretaceous). Epifaunal /semi-infaunal bivalves reappeared in seep deposits upon the advent of bathymodiolines and vesicomyids in the Eocene.
The seep fossil gastropod record from the Jurassic seeps is poor, but apparently represented by numerous hokkaidoconchids and rare neritids and fissurellids. The extinct provannid-related Paskentana also appeared in the Late Jurassic and together with Amberleya, Atresius and Bathypurpurinopsis are the most typical gastropods of Early Cretaceous hydrocarbon seeps. The earliest records of neomphalids also are from this epoch, namely Lithomphalus and ?Retiskenea. Several gastropod genera known from modern seeps appear in the Late Cretaceous. They include Bathyacmaea, Cantrainea, Cataegis, Homalopoma, Margarites, Provanna, and Serradonta.
The only known Jurassic hydrothermal vent association is dominated by the dimerelloid brachiopod Anarhynchia and trochoidean gastropod Francisciconcha. The only Late Cretaceous vent associations are known from Cyprus and they are dominated by provannid and hokkaidoconchid gastropods. Both Jurassic and Cretaceous vent mollusc s are associated with vestimentiferan-like tube worms.
Wood-fall communities similar to those of the modern day are known in the fossil record from the Late Cretaceous and seem to be related to the first appearance of xylophagain wood-boring bivalves. Earlier Jurassic associations are non-actualistic and apparently not chemosynthesis-based. The only link between Jurassic and Recent wood-fall associations lies in the presence of the polyplacophoran mollusc Leptochiton.
The vertebrate-fall communities in the Mesozoic are represented by Late Cretaceous plesiosaur-fall associations. These associations are composed of provannid and hokkaidoconchid gastropods and lucinid, solemyid and thyasirid bivalves.

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Institute of Paleobiology PAS, Warsaw, Poland
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Evolutionary history (fossil and molecular data)
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