Cold seeps are spots in the oceans where fluids such as methane and hydrogen sulfide escape from the bottom of the ocean into the water column. Such places harbor bacteria that extract energy from these gases with or without living in symbiosis with invertebrates such as clams and tubeworms. Fishes, snails, octopuses, and crustaceans are also common in or around these oases of life in shallow and deeper parts of the ocean. Cold seeps and their associated fauna have also been discovered in the fossil record.
In a recently published book chapter, Dr. Adiel Klompmaker (The University of Alabama Museums’ Curator of Paleontology) and colleagues provide the first synthesis of crustaceans in ancient cold seeps. They show that crustaceans have been found on each continent in marine rocks representing ancient seeps. Ostracods (seed shrimp) and barnacles are known from body fossils (carapaces and shell plates) alone. Conversely, decapod crustaceans are represented by two types of fossils: body fossils such as claws and carapaces attributed primarily to true crabs and ghost shrimps and their traces such as coprolites, repair scars in the shells of molluscan prey, and burrows. The last ~150 million years saw a remarkable rise in the number of localities with and occurrences of seep crustaceans, mostly caused by the diversification of decapods in a variety of environments including seeps. Although considerable progress was made over the last 30 years, the relatively unexplored fossil record of seep crustaceans provides ample opportunities for further taxonomic, macroevolutionary, and paleoecological research.
The article is freely accessible on this webpage, and a higher resolution version can be obtained by contacting Dr. Klompmaker. This research is related to previous research summarized here and ongoing research.
Klompmaker, A.A., Nyborg, T., Brezina, J., & Ando, Y. (2022). Crustaceans in cold seep ecosystems: fossil record, geographic distribution, taxonomic composition, and biology. In: Kaim, A., Cochran, J.K., & Landman, N.H. (eds.), Ancient Hydrocarbon Seeps. Topics in Geobiology 53, 123-200. Springer, Cham.