Of time and taphonomy: preservation in the Ediacaran
Wilby, Philip R
Geological Society of America
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Kenchington, C., & Wilby, P. R. (2014). Of time and taphonomy: preservation in the Ediacaran. [Book chapter]. https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/247083
The late Neoproterozoic witnessed a revolution in the history of life: the transition from a microbial world to the one we know today. The enigmatic organisms of the Ediacaran hold the key to understanding the early evolution of metazoans and their ecology, and thus the basis of Phanerozoic life. Crucial to interpreting the information they divulge is a thorough understanding of their taphonomy: of what is preserved andhow it is preserved, and also of what is not preserved. Fortunately, this Period is also recognized for its abundance of soft-tissue preservation, which is viewed through a wide variety of taphonomic windows. Some of these, such as pyritization and carbonaceous compression, are also present throughout the Phanerozoic, but the abundance and variety of moldic preservation of body fossils in siliclastic settings is unique to the Ediacaran. In rare cases, one organism is preserved in several preservational styles which, in conjunction with our increased understanding of the taphonomic processes involved in each style, allow us to more confidently interpret aspects of the biology and ecology of the organisms preserved. Several groundbreaking advances in this field have been made since the 1990s, and have paved the way for increasingly thorough analyses and elegant interpretations.
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