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Ediacaran survivors in the Cambrian: suspicions, denials and a smoking gun

Hoyal Cuthill, Jennifer (2022) 'Ediacaran survivors in the Cambrian: suspicions, denials and a smoking gun.' Geological Magazine. pp. 1-10. ISSN 0016-7568

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The relative timing of extinctions and originations is a foundation for reconstructing evolutionary causes. However, there has been a tendency to dismiss reported Ediacaran holdovers in favour of effective extinction around the Cambrian boundary. Here, focussing on the classically-Ediacaran frondose biota (Petalonamae), I suggest four main reasons why proposed Ediacaran survivors have previously been denied the acceptance they deserve: denials based on mistaken identity, doppelgängers, a last gasp or dead clades walking. I then point to the lower Cambrian species Stromatoveris psygmoglena as a key example which simultaneously meets these objections. Collectively, Cambrian survivors are a “smoking gun” showing that extinction of the classically-Ediacaran frondose biota did not occur until at least 33 My after the end of the Ediacaran period, registered by phylogenetic petalonamid Thaumaptilon from the Burgess Shale. Therefore, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of their earlier demise have been greatly exaggerated. Causes of their ultimate extinction should instead be sought in their total range and diversity dynamics. Overall, the Ediacaran-Cambrian transition shows extremely low numbers of recorded survivors, but diversity dynamics are dominated by the Cambrian explosion. In this context, recorded occurrences for the classically-Ediacaran frondose biota are compatible with at least two extinction events, the first within a possible mass extinction at the Cambrian boundary, and later, their ultimate extinction in, or after, the middle Cambrian (Miaolingian Series, Wuliuan Stage). There is, however, no correlative basis for a causal link between the Cambrian transition and the effective or final demise of the classically-Ediacaran soft-bodied biota.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ediacaran biota; Cambrian explosion; evolution; palaeobiology; Petalonamae
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Life Sciences, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2021 17:35
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2022 16:14

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