An ichnotaxon is defined by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature
International Code of Zoological Nomenclature
The International Code of Zoological Nomenclature is a widely accepted convention in zoology that rules the formal scientific naming of organisms treated as animals...

 as "a taxon
|thumb|270px|[[African elephants]] form a widely-accepted taxon, the [[genus]] LoxodontaA taxon is a group of organisms, which a taxonomist adjudges to be a unit. Usually a taxon is given a name and a rank, although neither is a requirement...

 based on the fossilized work of an organism", that is, the non-human equivalent of an artifact. Ichnotaxa are names used to identify and distinguish morphologically
Morphology (biology)
In biology, morphology is a branch of bioscience dealing with the study of the form and structure of organisms and their specific structural features....

 distinctive ichnofossils
Trace fossil
Trace fossils, also called ichnofossils , are geological records of biological activity. Trace fossils may be impressions made on the substrate by an organism: for example, burrows, borings , urolites , footprints and feeding marks, and root cavities...

, more commonly known as trace fossils. They are assigned genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 and species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 ranks by ichnologists, much like organisms in Linnaean taxonomy
Linnaean taxonomy
Linnaean taxonomy can mean either of two related concepts:# the particular form of biological classification set up by Carl Linnaeus, as set forth in his Systema Naturæ and subsequent works...

. These are known as ichnogenera and ichnospecies, respectively.

Ichnotaxa include trace fossils such as burrows, borings and etchings, tracks and trackway
A trackway is an ancient route of travel for people or animals. In biology, a trackway can be a set of impressions in the soft earth, usually a set of footprints, left by an animal. A fossil trackway is the fossilized imprint of a trackway. Trackways have been found all over the world...

s, coprolite
A coprolite is fossilized animal dung. Coprolites are classified as trace fossils as opposed to body fossils, as they give evidence for the animal's behaviour rather than morphology. The name is derived from the Greek words κοπρος / kopros meaning 'dung' and λιθος / lithos meaning 'stone'. They...

s, gastrolith
A gastrolith, also called a stomach stone or gizzard stones, is a rock held inside a gastrointestinal tract. Gastroliths are retained in the muscular gizzard and used to grind food in animals lacking suitable grinding teeth. The grain size depends upon the size of the animal and the gastrolith's...

s, regurgitalith
Regurgitaliths are the fossilised remains of stomach contents that have been regurgitated by an animal. They are trace fossils and can be subdivided into ichnotaxa. Regurgitaliths might provide useful information on the diet of the animal, but are difficult to relate to any particular species....

s, nest
A nest is a place of refuge to hold an animal's eggs or provide a place to live or raise offspring. They are usually made of some organic material such as twigs, grass, and leaves; or may simply be a depression in the ground, or a hole in a tree, rock or building...

s, leaf mine
Leaf miner
Leaf miner is a term used to describe the larvae of many different species of insect which live in and eat the leaf tissue of plants. The vast majority of leaf-mining insects are moths , sawflies and flies , though some beetles and wasps also exhibit this behavior.Like Woodboring beetles, leaf...

s, bite and gnaw structures, secretion
Secretion is the process of elaborating, releasing, and oozing chemicals, or a secreted chemical substance from a cell or gland. In contrast to excretion, the substance may have a certain function, rather than being a waste product...

s modified by organismal activity, such as cocoons, pupa
A pupa is the life stage of some insects undergoing transformation. The pupal stage is found only in holometabolous insects, those that undergo a complete metamorphosis, going through four life stages; embryo, larva, pupa and imago...

l cases, spider web
Spider web
A spider web, spiderweb, spider's web or cobweb is a device built by a spider out of proteinaceous spider silk extruded from its spinnerets....

s, embedment structures and plant gall
Galls or cecidia are outgrowths on the surface of lifeforms caused by invasion by other lifeforms, such as parasites or bacterial infection. Plant galls are abnormal outgrowths of plant tissues and can be caused by various parasites, from fungi and bacteria, to insects and mites...


Ichnotaxa comes from the Greek ίχνος, ichnos meaning track and ταξις, taxis meaning ordering.

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