What were the Ediacaran biota? Growth, morphology and phylogeny
Jennifer F. Hoyal Cuthill1,2
1Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan.
2Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, UK.
Discoveries of Precambrian macro-fossils (over 541 million years old) stand among the most remarkable achievements in twentieth century palaeontology. However, the ‘Ediacaran biota’ have proved difficult to relate to living groups, due to their unusual morphology and strange modes of fossilisation. This talk will give an overview of the enigmatic biota from the Ediacaran period and describe recent quantitative analyses of their growth, functional morphology and phylogeny. These new models reveal close links between Ediacaran macro-fossils and the more familiar animals and ecology of the Cambrian period.