Evidence of pteridophyte-arthropod interactions in the fossil record

Andrew C. Scott, W.G. Chaloner, S. Paterson

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The past decade has seen the emergence of considerable fossil evidence of a history of pteridophyte-arthropod interaction extending back to the Devonian period. Such fossils include plant tissue showing lesions, bites and borings with associated features implicating arthropods as causal agents. Gut contents of Carboniferous arthropods, which include lycopod xylem elements and spores, are a tangible demonstration of phytophagy. Pteridophyte spores in fossil droppings (coprolites) indicate the prevalence of arthropod spore-eating in the Palaeozoic. This may have had compensations for the source plant and evidently represented the start of the co-evolution which culminated in the elaborate adaptations shown by flowering plants and their insect pollination vectors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-140
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh section B: Biological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 1985


  • Carboniferous
  • Palaeozoic
  • arthropods
  • lycopods
  • pteridophytes
  • palaeoecology
  • phytophagy
  • spores

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