Arthropod trackways

Welcome to the Arthropod trackways Web-site hosted by the University of Bristol Earth Sciences Department.

This site is a guide to arthropod trackway material in the fossil record, how trackways are formed, preserved and the main types you are likely to encounter.

But first, the basics...

...What is an Arthropod?

Arthropods are the most successful and diverse group of living invertebrates, and are characterised by their hard outer exoskeleton and jointed appendages. There are four major arthropod groups. The Crustacea (shrimps,crabs and lobsters), the Chelicerata (spiders, scorpions), and the Uniramia (insects, myriapods) all have both living and extinct representatives, while a fourth group, the Trilobita, only has extinct forms. The arthropod's firm exoskeleton provides a rigid base for internal muscle attachment, therefore they are highly mobile and have the potential for fast movement.1

The Longhorn beetle Prionus coriarius

What is a trackway?
A trackway is a series of imprints made by the walking appendages of an animal as it moves over a substrate. Such a trackway can become preserved in the fossil record and as such is an example of a trace fossil, that is a sedimentary structure produced by the behaviour of a organism. Other examples of trace fossils are preserved burrows and borings, as well as vertebrate trackways such as dinosaur footprints. The study of trace fossils is known as Palaeoichnology.

An example of a fossilised arthropod trackway.

To find out more about arthropod trackways, enter the site using one of the links below.

and links

Go to: Bristol Palaeontology Homepage

This site is maintained by Abby Lane