Investigator:

Kimberly Lau

Advisor: Derek Briggs

Description:

Eurypterids are a monophyletic group of Ordovician-Permian invertebrates commonly known as “sea scorpions.”  Eurypterid fossils have been mainly found in northern and western Europe and in northeastern North America, with a large collection from upstate New York.  The New York eurypterids, comprised of almost 350 localities from the Silurian, provide an excellent way to better understand the geography, taphonomy, habitat, and evolution of these invertebrates.  Fossils are abundant in localities that have sedimentary features of restricted facies, such as sea evaporites, indicating a habitat of high salinity that prohibited decay as well as predators.

To understand this problem I will implement a study of the eurypterid fossils in the Peabody collection, as well as perform some field work to study the localities in which fossils have been found.  The taphonomy of the eurypterid specimens (molts, body fossils, fragments) from each locality will also be considered.  This information (environment of preservation and taphonomy) will be plotted temporally and spatially in a series of maps to understand the distribution of eurypterids as well as how their habitats evolved.  Based on the database, the extent of horizons and environments in which the New York eurypterids have been found will be mapped.  This distribution will be compared to the other exposed rocks from the Silurian and Devonian that lack eurypterid fossils, which will be gathered from the literature and other databases.