Previous palaeoecological researches have in large
measure arisen as subsidiaries of stratigraphical and palaeontological studies. The conclusions drawn have necessarily been
confined to broad generalizations on the depositional environments, or to elucidation of the modes of life and the habitats
of related groups of fossils- So far as had been ascertained
at the commencement of this research, there had been no detailed
palaeoecological study of a fossil assemblage from a limited
marine horizon. Such a study seemed necessary and the research
described in this thesis is an endeavour to contribute towards
the knowledge and understanding of fossil benthonic communities.
The objects of the research were twofold to discover how the
various fossils of a particular marine deposit had lived, and
to reconstruct the physical and biological environments prevailing during the accumulation of that deposit.
The study has been confined to a detailed analysis of
the fossil assemblage from a shale, two feet in thickness, of
Lower Carboniferous age. The objects of the research have for
the most part been achieved, and, in particular, the results have
shown that larval studies may be of greater importance in palaeontology than has hitherto been realised. The problems
encountered have necessitated an approach based on recent ecological studies of living animal communities.