Gastropod lifestyle and ecology
Modern gastropods live in a variety of depositional settings in fresh, brackish, and marine water. Fossil gastropods inhabited the same habitats as modern gastropods. Marine, brackish, and freshwater origins for fossil gastropods are usually determined by their associations with other fossils more diagnostic of marine, brackish or freshwater. For example, fossil gastropods found in the same rock layer as fossil corals, are likely marine gastropods because corals only inhabit marine waters. Sedimentology (sediment type, grain size, bedding) of the rock strata encasing gastropod fossils is also used to interpret the type of environment (e.g., river, lake, estuary, marine shelf, etc.) in which the original sediment was deposited. For some research projects, isotopic analyses of limestones in which gastropods are found has also been used to determine a soil, freshwater, brackish, or marine water origin for the limestone. Almost all of the gastropod fossils found in the Paleozoic rocks of Kentucky were marine gastropods. Gastropod fossils (and tracks and trails of gastropods) have been found in Kentucky rocks with origins ranging from shallow intertidal to deep marine.
Content and graphics by Stephen Greb, Kentucky Geological Survey