Filamentous Connections between Ediacaran Fronds

Liu, Alexander G. and Dunn, Frances S. (2020) Filamentous Connections between Ediacaran Fronds. Current Biology. ISSN 0960-9822 DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.01.052

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.01.052

Abstract

Fossils of the Ediacaran macrobiota (∼571–539 mya) record phylogenetically diverse marine palaeocommunities, including early animals, which pre-date the “Cambrian Explosion” [1, 2, 3, 4]. Benthic forms with a frondose gross morphology, assigned to the morphogroups Rangeomorpha [5] and Frondomorpha (see also Arboreomorpha) [6, 7, 8], are among the most temporally wide-ranging and environmentally tolerant members of the Ediacaran macrobiota [6] and dominated deep-marine ecosystems ∼571–560 mya [9, 10, 11]. Investigations into the morphology [12, 13, 14], palaeoecology [10, 15, 16], reproductive strategies [17, 18], feeding methods [9, 19], and morphogenesis of frondose taxa together constrain their phylogenetic position to the metazoan (for Rangeomorpha) or eumetazoan (e.g., Arborea) total groups [14, 20], but tighter constraint is currently lacking. Here, we describe fossils of abundant filamentous organic structures preserved among frond-dominated fossil assemblages in Newfoundland (Canada). The filaments constitute a prominent component of the ecosystems, and exhibit clear physical associations with at least seven frondose taxa. Individual specimens of one uniterminal rangeomorph taxon appear to be directly connected by filaments across distances of centimeters to meters. Such physical linkages are interpreted to reflect evidence for stolonic connections: a conclusion with potential implications for the phylogenetic placement and palaeoecology of frondose organisms. Consideration of extant stoloniferous organisms suggests that Ediacaran frondose taxa were likely clonal and resurrects the possibility that they may have been colonial (e.g., [21, 22]).

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2019AREP; IA76
Subjects: 04 - Palaeobiology
Divisions: 04 - Palaeobiology
08 - Green Open Access
Journal or Publication Title: Current Biology
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.01.052
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2020 14:29
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2020 14:29
URI: http://eprints.esc.cam.ac.uk/id/eprint/4650

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