What Controlled the Shape of Fenestrate Bryozoans? – #365papers – 2017 – 14

#365papers for January 14, 2017

Suarez Andres and Wyse Jackson, 2015, Feeding currents: a limiting factor for disparity of Paleozoic fenestrate bryozoans: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 433, p. 219-232

What’s it about?

This paper discusses the various colony shapes available for a group of organisms called ‘fenestrate bryozoans.’ These colonies get their name because the structures are often shaped like window screen with tiny openings called ‘fenestra’ (which comes from the Latin word for window).

All bryozoans are filter feeders, so their colonies must optimize their ability to feed. The shapes of colonies possible are limited by the presence of fenestra in this group of bryozoans. This paper discusses these limitations and the range of shapes available (called ‘disparity’ in biology).

Why does it matter?

The authors consider the physics of moving water through the colonial structure of fenestrate bryozoans to help understand why there are so few general forms of colonies in this group.

Why did I read this?

I was doing a search on bryozoans for my class and came across this. It was of particular interest because of the concept of ‘disparity.’ I’ll be using this paper to help students understand this important concept in biology and paleontology.

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