Benthic – A Term Used in Biology
Readers of posts about fossil discoveries might come across some unusual terms, we provide a definition of benthic.
The Kingdom Animalia is made up of a number of different phyla, the most numerous of which in terms of species is the Arthropoda. Arthropods (Cambrian geological period to today), are a very diverse phylum with a wide variety of habits, behaviours and body shapes. Crustaceans such as crabs, lobsters, barnacles and shrimps are members of the Arthropoda. Insects, millipedes, centipedes, arachnids, king crabs and extinct Orders like the Trilobita are members of the Arthropoda too.
Trilobite Fossils – Many Trilobites had a Benthic Habit
Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur
A number of terms are used in biology to describe the mode of life of an organism. The majority of terms used apply to marine or freshwater organisms because of the number of different environmental niches or settings an organism or a group of organisms can occupy within a designated ecosystem.
Everything Dinosaur stocks an extensive range of replicas of prehistoric invertebrates including many arthropod figures such as trilobites. To view the range of replicas of iconic fossil animals in stock at Everything Dinosaur: Replicas of Iconic Fossil Animals.
Definition of Benthic
Take for example, the term benthic (pronounced ben-thick). Benthic organisms are animals and plants that live on the sea floor, the collective noun is benthos (ben-foss). For instance, many kinds of trilobite and extant shrimp scuttle along the sea floor either actively hunting or feeding on the rain of organic material that comes from above. These animals are described as benthic. The freshwater, oxygenating pond plant Elodea (Elodea spp.) is an example of a plant with a benthic habit.