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Temporal range: Early Permian– Recent[1]
Trace fossil classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Crustacea
Ichnogenus: Ophiomorpha
  • O. nodosa
  • O. rudis
  • others...
Example of Ophiomorpha in the sandstone of the Parkman Member of the Clagget Formation in Elk Basin on the Montana/Wyoming border
Ophiomorpha in Late Turonian sandstones in Bohemian Cretaceous Basin, near Hřensko in Czech Republic

Ophiomorpha is an ichnotaxon, usually interpreted as a burrow of an organism (specifically a crustacean[2]) living in the near-shore environment.[3] The burrow lining is more or less smooth on the inside, and densely to strongly mammalated or nodose on the outside, due to the packing of fecal pellets for support of the burrow. Branching is irregular but Y-shaped where present.[4] It (particularly O. nodosa) is often considered part of the Skolithos ichnofacies,[5] where it has occurred (i.e. nearshore environments) since the early Permian,[6] though it (particularly O. rudis) has also occurred in deep water settings (Nereites ichnofacies) since the Late Jurassic, such as well-oxygenated turbidites.[7]

More generally Ophiomorpha and other crustacean-generated burrows first become prominent in the Jurassic.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In near-shore environments, at least: Brenchley, Dr P. J.; Brenchley, P.; Harper, D. (1998-12-18). Palaeoecology. ISBN 978-0-412-43450-1.
  2. ^ McIlroy, D. (1 January 2004). The Application of Ichnology to Palaeoenvironmental and Stratigraphic Analysis. Geological Society of London. ISBN 978-1-86239-154-3.
  3. ^ Boggs, S. (1995). Principles of Sedimentology and Stratigraphy, 2nd Edition. Prentice Hall, Inc.
  4. ^ Frey, R.W., Howard, J.D. and Pryor, W.A. (1978). "Ophiomorpha: Its morpholgic, taxonomic, and environmental significance". Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 23: 199–229. Bibcode:1978PPP....23..199F. doi:10.1016/0031-0182(78)90094-9.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Frey, R.W. & Pemberton, S.G (1984). "Trace fossil facies models". In Walker, R. (ed.). Facies Models. Toronto, Ontario: Geological Association of Canada. pp. 189–207.
  6. ^ Brenchley, Dr P. J.; Brenchley, P.; Harper, D. (1998-12-18). Palaeoecology. ISBN 978-0-412-43450-1.
  7. ^ Tchoumatchenco, Platon; Uchman, Alfred (2001). "The oldest deep-sea Ophiomorpha and Scolicia and associated trace fossils from the Upper Jurassic–Lower Cretaceous deep-water turbidite deposits of SW Bulgaria". Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 169 (1–2): 85–99. Bibcode:2001PPP...169...85T. doi:10.1016/S0031-0182(01)00218-8.
  8. ^ Buatois, Luis A.; Mángano, M. Gabriela (11 August 2011). Ichnology: Organism-Substrate Interactions in Space and Time. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-139-50064-7.