Alabama Museum of Natural History

New study on predator-prey interactions of snails

Drill holes in turritellids from Taiwan. Source: Senan et al. (2023).
Drill holes in turritellids from Taiwan. Source: Senan et al. (2023).

Most research on predation in the marine fossil record has focused on specimens from North America and Europe. To better understand the effect of predators on ancient ecosystems globally, more studies from other parts of the world are necessary. University of Alabama Museums’ Curator of Paleontology Dr. Adiel Klompmaker collaborated with colleagues from Taiwan resulting in a recently published article.

Fossils from Upper Pleistocene sediments (~0.13 to 0.01 million years old) in Taiwan were collected and studied. An important part of the molluscan fauna they found consisted of gastropods (snails) known as turritellids. The paleontologists discovered predatory drill holes created by predatory snails from the Naticidae family in as much as ~41% of the shells of Turritella cingulifera! The predatory snails consumed the soft tissues of the turritellids through these holes, leading to an almost certain death for the turritellids. Considering such high rates of predation, the high reproduction rate of turritellids may have helped this species to survive to the present day. The paleontologists also studied other aspects of predation using the same fauna. All results can be read in the freely accessible scientific paper.


Senan, A.S., C.-H. Hsu, S.-W. Lee, L.-Y. Chang, L.-C. Tseng, A.A. Klompmaker, and J.-P. Lin. 2023. Predator-prey interactions based on drillholes: A case study of turritelline gastropods from the Pleistocene Szekou Formation of Taiwan. Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.