Research paper

The Bichordites ichnofabric in the Pleistocene ocean current-generated sand ridge complex

Departament of Natural Sciences, Kochi Universtiy, 780-8577 Kochi, Japan.
Corresponding author


The ichnofabric characterised by Bichordites monastiriensis, a fossil burrow of the echinocardiid spatangoid echinoid, is first reported from the large-scale subaqueous dune (sand wave) deposits of the ocean current-generated shelf sand ridge complex of the middle Pleistocene Ichijiku Formation of the Boso peninsula, Japan. It consists of dominant B. monastiriensis and associated Alcyonidiopsis, large Macaronichnus, Piscichnus, Scolicia, Skolithos and unnamed escapes structures. Similar Bichordites-dominant ichnofabrics have been reported from Neogene to Quaternary sand wave deposits formed by various agents (such as tidal currents, storm-induced currents, or fair-weather wave-generated currents) whose depositional environments range from the deep sea floor to the shallow shelf. Although sand wave systems are commonly characterised by rapid sedimentation and highly shifting substrates, preventing colonisation by most benthic animals, rapid burrowers such as the echinocardiids were likely able to inhabit these regions regardless of the dominant depositional agents or the water depths of the habitats. The fossils record of Bichordites dates back to the Oligocene, although the trace fossil became particularly common in the Miocene and the known tracemakers (i.e., the echinocardiids and the maretiids) appeared in the Eocene. Moreover, these tracemakers now described here may be used as an indicator of highly shifting substrates, such as those found in sand wave systems, in the Cenozoic.

Keywords:  Bichordites monastiriensis ichnofabric, shifting, substrates, palaeoenvironmental indicator, Ichijiku Formation, Japan.

How to cite: Nara, M. 2014. The Bichordites ichnofabric in the Pleistocene ocean current-generated sand ridge complex. Spanish Journal of Palaeontology, 29 (2), 191-202.

Received 31 May 2013, Accepted 08 January 2014, Published 31 December 2014