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Historically, trace fossils have been described as "tricks of the devil, plant or fucoid remains, or the specific tracks of organisms," and more recently, as "the behavioral responses of organisms to a particular substrate." Moreover, there are now many attempts to use trace fossils to model community structure, to interpret depth zonations, diversity, nutrient levels, etc. However, it stretches the point to treat traces as pseudo-organisms. They can be excellent paleoindicators when accepted as the complex structures they are--especially surface traces. Surface traces represent the preservation of an ephemeral animal, combination of sediment, and fluid that can provide us with information about the size, weight, style, and locomotory types of animals present; they can se limits for values of the engineering or geotechnical properties of the substrate (such as bearing capacity, water content, and shear strength); and they can indicate the fluid regime (current velocities and directions) associated with the site area. This information can be gleaned from fossil traces by treating them as structures created by organisms (nothing more), that to be preserved must respond to local, transitory conditions at the seabed.
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