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Skolithos from Kraków am See, Germany.
Skolithos trace fossil. Scale bar is 10 mm.

Skolithos (formerly spelt Scolithus or Skolithus[1]) is a common trace fossil ichnogenus whose original form consisted of approximately vertical cylinders. One well-known occurrence of Cambrian trace fossils is the famous 'Pipe Rock' of northwest Scotland. The 'pipes' that give the rock its name are closely packed straight tubes, which in this case were presumably made by a worm-like organism. The name given to this type of tube or burrow is Skolithos, which may be 35 cm[2] (14") in length and between 2[citation needed] to 5[2] cm (0.8 to 1.6") in diameter. Such traces are known worldwide from sands and sandstones deposited in shallow water environments, from the Cambrian Period (541 to 485.4 million years ago) onwards. Skolithos burrows have rarely been described from carbonates.[3] Some burrows have a helical form.[4] Skolithos is typically marine,[5] but is also known from freshwater lacustrine settings.[2] It is usually associated with high-energy environments close to the shoreline.[6] Trypanites is a similar form but is excavated in hard substrates as a trace fossil. Also related are Ophiomorpha and Diplocraterion.

Skolithos linearis, found in the Blue Ridge Mountain region, is the oldest known trace fossil in Virginia.[7]


  1. ^ Gevers, T.W.; Frakes, L.A.; Edwards, L.N.; Marzolf, J.E. (1971). "Trace Fossils in the Lower Beacon Sediments (Devonian), Darwin Mountains, Southern Victoria Land, Antarctica". Journal of Paleontology. 45 (1): 81–94. JSTOR 1302754. 
  2. ^ a b c Woolfe, K.J. (1990). "Trace fossils as paleoenvironmental indicators in the Taylor Group (Devonian) of Antarctica". Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 80 (3–4): 301–310. doi:10.1016/0031-0182(90)90139-X. 
  3. ^ Vinn, O.; Wilson, M.A. (2013). "An event bed with abundant Skolithos burrows from the late Pridoli (Silurian) of Saaremaa (Estonia)". Carnets de Géologie. CG2013_L02: 83–87. doi:10.4267/2042/49316. Retrieved 2013-04-04. 
  4. ^ E. Volohonskya, M. Wisshakc, D. Blomeierb, A. Seilachera, S. Snigirevskyd and A. Freiwaldc (2008). "A new helical trace fossil from the Lower Devonian of Spitsbergen (Svalbard) and its palaeoenvironmental significance". Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 267: 17. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2008.04.011. 
  5. ^ Trewin, N.H.; McNamara, K.J. (1995). "Arthropods invade the land: trace fossils and palaeoenvironments of the Tumblagooda Sandstone (? late Silurian) of Kalbarri, Western Australia". Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh: Earth Sciences. 85: 177–210. doi:10.1017/s026359330000359x. 
  6. ^ Desjardins, P. R.; Gabriela MÁngano, M.; Buatois, L. A.; Pratt, B. R. (2010). "Skolithospipe rock and associated ichnofabrics from the southern Rocky Mountains, Canada: colonization trends and environmental controls in an early Cambrian sand-sheet complex". Lethaia. 43 (4): 507. doi:10.1111/j.1502-3931.2009.00214.x. 
  7. ^ "Blue Ridge". Retrieved 2017-02-04. 

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