Ichnogenus: Palaeophycus Hall, 1847

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Ichnospecies of the Cincinnatian:

    • Palaeophycus type-A

– Annulate tunnels (Corryville)

    • Palaeophycus type-B

– Longitudinally striated, as well as annulated (Corryville, Mount Hope)

    • Palaeophycus type-C

– Most common and nondescript type; lacks fine sculpture; common in calcarenites (Eden)

  • Palaeophycus flexuosum (James) – Note that this “trace” is interpreted to be of inorganic origin (McMicken, Southgate, Economy/Fulton)

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Stratigraphic Occurrences

Geographic Occurrences

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Sequences (Formations)

  • C3 Sequence (Corryville)
  • C2 Sequence (Fairview: Mount Hope)
  • C1 Sequence (Clays Ferry/Kope: McMicken, Southgate, Economy/Fulton)

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Identification in Hand Sample

  • General morphology: Unbranched cylindrical burrows
  • Branching: None
  • Surface ornamentation: None
  • Fill: Backfilled; similar to host rock
  • Lining: Yes
  • Spreiten: None

Paleoenvironmental Parameters

  • Substrate: Softground
  • Oxygen content: Moderate-high
  • Nutrient content: Moderate-high
  • Energy: Low-high


  • Behavior: Burrowing, dwelling
  • Tracemaker: Marine and continental invertebrate burrowing species

Potential Environments

  • Marine
  • Continental (alluvial, lacustrine, eolian)

Palaeophycus from the Kope Formation of Bracken, Kentucky (CMC 69679)

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Holland (UGA Strat Lab, 2013):

  • Palaeophycus is a lined burrow, filled with sediments essentially identical to surrounding sediments. It is distinguished from Planolites another unbranching burrow, which is not lined and is filled with sediment distinctly different from surrounding sediment.

Hasiotis (KU, 2013):

  • Description: Unbranched, cyclindrical burrows that are lined, predominantly horizontal, straight to sinuous, smooth walled, with variable diameter and typically structureless fill similar to host rock.
  • Interpretation: Multiple behaviors including burrowing and dwelling; marine to continental including alluvial, lacustrine, and eolian; multiple invertebrate burrowing species both marine and continental.

Fossils of Ohio (1996):

  • Paleophycus is derived from the Greek for “ancient seaweed”!
  • Paleophycus is a straight to somewhat curved, unbranched or branched, horizontal to subhorizontal, lined, cylindrical burrow. The material filling in the burrows is typically the same type of rock that is containing the burrows. The lining may show up as a thickening of burrow edges. This form is easily confused with Planolites, an ichnogenus in the Silurian. Paleophycus and Planolites commonly found on or in the same slabs. Paleophycus is one of the most common Devonian ichnofossils. It can be found in various Devonian rock units, including the Ohio Shale. It is also one of the most common Ohio ichnofossils overall, and may be found in many of the Ordovician, Devonian, Silurian, Mississippian, and Pennsylvanian rocks of Ohio. This ichnofossil was formed by predacious or filter-feeding worms.

Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, Part W, Miscellanea Supplement 1 (1975):

  • Description: Ichnogenus showing wide range of morphology; cylindrical or subcylindrical burrows, usually sinuous, oriented more or less obliquely to bedding; commonly unbranched, though may be branched occasionally; surfaces of walls smooth or rarely with faint longitudinal striae; up to about 20 cm. or more in length; 3 – 15 mm. in diameter; commonly intersecting one another.
  • Interpretation: Originally considered to be stems of “fucoids,” interpreted by James (1885) as trace fossil; belongs to repichnia of infaunal origin; pathways of various groups of errant animals; neither parts of constructed tubes as suggested by several authors nor stuffed burrows of sediment ingestors; “no one has studied the genus in detail” (Osgood, 1970, p. 375)

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