Moss Animals: Phylum Bryozoa

Bryozoans, sometimes referred to as "moss animals," are a type of simple colonial animal that mostly lives in marine environments (a few inhabit freshwater). Bryozoans feed by means of a lophophore, a small ring of tentacles covered with tiny cilia that are used to filter food from the water. Bryozoan colonies are protected with a covering of organic materials or calcium carbonate. Some calcium carbonate forms may be found as fossils in the Cretaceous strata near the C & D Canal.

Three species of bryozoans have been found in the spoils piles (refuse material from excavation of the canal) in the area of Reedy Point. The origin of these bryozoans is under much debate. Their occurrences are most commonly reported from the Mt. Laurel Formation. However, an alternative view is that many are from sediments of the overlying, Tertiary-age Vincentown Formation, which is exposed to the south - if so, they would have been washed into the eastern end of the Canal by the Delaware River and then dumped on the spoils with the other dredgings.


Unless otherwise noted, photographs and figures are from DGS Special Publication No. 18, by E. M. Lauginiger, 1988.