Brachiopods, the most common shellfish in Paleozoic times, now live primarily in the chilly waters of northern fjords and the Antarctic shelf, except for an abundant population in the tropic waters of the continental shelf off southeast Brazil.
The Brazilian brachiopods are the best modern analogy for the life and times of the critter that was so pervasive over 250 million years ago, says David Rodland, Ph.D. student in geological sciences at Virginia Tech. He has been studying the population since July 2000.
Rodland is studying the encrustation, or colonization, of the modern brachiopods by oysters, bryozoans -- or "moss animals," and, in particular, worm tubes. There has been no large-scale study of modern brachiopod encrustation, he says. The study results might allow scientists to estimate such things as the water depth at which Paleozoic brachiopods lived and the productivity of plankton populations, of the earths waters at that time.
David Rodland | EurekAlert!
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