Behaviors recorded by traces

Trace fossils preserve and are sometimes classified by the behavior they represent, termed ethology. The interpretation of behaviors and activities from patterns in rocks are based on identification of patterns in sediments by modern organisms. Seilacher (1953a, b) developed an ethological classification of traces developed for common behaviors preserved as traces. Additional behaviors and ethologic names/groups have been proposed by many researchers (Frey, 1973; Ekdale and others, 1984; Bromley, 1996; Knaust and Bromley, 2012). The most commonly recognized are:

  • Dwelling burrows (Domichnia): Burrows representing the homes of organisms in a substrate.
  • Escape structures (Fugichnia): Burrows formed by organisms moving through sediment after being covered by sediment.
  • Feeding traces (Fodichnia): Patterns preserved on or in a substrate by deposit-feeding organisms as they move through sediment in search of food.
  • Grazing traces (Pascichnia): Patterns (trails) preserved on or in substrate by grazing organisms that were looking for food, but were grazing in a systematic pattern.
  • Locomotion traces (Repichnia): Footprints, tracks, and trails preserved on a substrate by a moving organism.
  • Resting traces (Cubichnia): Markings that preserve the shapes of organisms (or parts of organisms) when they temporarily rest on a soft substrate (surface).


Examples of traces representing different ethological (behavioral) classes from Kentucky.
Examples of traces representing different ethological (behavioral) classes from Kentucky.



Behaviors recorded by traces (ethology)

Where traces occur in rock beds (stratinomy, toponomy)


Other types of traces (borings, excrement, rooting)

Bioturbation intensity and ichnofabric

Some Kentucky trace fossils

References cited



Last Modified on 2023-01-05
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