Where traces occur in a bed

An important part of trace fossil identification and description is understanding how and where the trace is preserved relative to the bed it is found in. The position of traces in a bed is termed stratinomy (Seilacher, 1953a, b) or toponomy (Martinsson, 1970). Traces can be preserved on top of beds (epirelief), within beds (full relief), or at the base of beds (hyporelief). Traces can be preserved as indentations (concave) in the top or bottom of a bed or as positive-relief structures (convex) in the top or bottom of a bed. Some traces are simple structures, whereas others are part of very complex galleries. Some traces always occur at the base of beds, whereas others always occur at the tops of beds. Hence, understanding top and bottom direction in a bed (especially in pieces of rock that have fallen from an exposure and are not in place) is important for identifying and interpreting specific trace fossils.

Terms used to describe a trace fossil’s position in a bed.
Terms used to describe a trace fossil’s position in a bed. After Seilacher’s (1953a, b) stratinomic and Martinsson’s (1970) toponomy classifications.



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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