Fractal branching organizations of Ediacaran rangeomorph fronds reveal a lost Proterozoic body plan

Hoyal Cuthill, Jennifer F. and Conway Morris, Simon (2014) Fractal branching organizations of Ediacaran rangeomorph fronds reveal a lost Proterozoic body plan. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. p. 201408542. ISSN 0027-8424, 1091-6490 DOI 10.1073/pnas.1408542111

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Official URL: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/08/06/14085...

Abstract

The branching morphology of Ediacaran rangeomorph fronds has no exact counterpart in other complex macroorganisms. As such, these fossils pose major questions as to growth patterns, functional morphology, modes of feeding, and adaptive optimality. Here, using parametric Lindenmayer systems, a formal model of rangeomorph morphologies reveals a fractal body plan characterized by self-similar, axial, apical, alternate branching. Consequent morphological reconstruction for 11 taxa demonstrates an adaptive radiation based on 3D space-filling strategies. The fractal body plan of rangeomorphs is shown to maximize surface area, consistent with diffusive nutrient uptake from the water column (osmotrophy). The enigmas of rangeomorph morphology, evolution, and extinction are resolved by the realization that they were adaptively optimized for unique ecological and geochemical conditions in the late Proterozoic. Changes in ocean conditions associated with the Cambrian explosion sealed their fate.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2014AREP; IA68;
Subjects: 04 - Palaeobiology
Divisions: 04 - Palaeobiology
08 - Green Open Access
Journal or Publication Title: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Page Range: p. 201408542
Identification Number: 10.1073/pnas.1408542111
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2014 15:20
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2014 01:36
URI: http://eprints.esc.cam.ac.uk/id/eprint/3108

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