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Book Chapter

Contributions of Professor Martin Brasier to the study of early life, stratigraphy and biogeochemistry

By
Alexander T. Brasier
Alexander T. Brasier
School of Geosciences, Meston Building, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 3UE, UK
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Duncan McIlroy
Duncan McIlroy
Department of Earth Sciences, Memorial University of Newfoundland, A1B 3X5, NL, Canada
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Nicola McLoughlin
Nicola McLoughlin
Department of Geology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, 6140, South AfricaAlbany Museum, Somerset Street, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa
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Published:
January 01, 2017

Abstract

Understanding early life has been one of the hottest topics in palaeobiology for many years, attracting some of the finest palaeontological minds. Three of the most fundamental innovations in the history of life were the appearance of the first cells, the evolution of multi-cellularity and the evolution of animals. The MOFAOTYOF principle (my oldest fossils are older than your oldest fossils) commonly clouds discussions around the oldest fossil evidence, requiring a rigorous and critical approach to determining which fossils are reliable and should form the basis of our understanding of early life. In addition, evidence for early fossils must be considered within their spatial context; we need to understand the conditions under which they were preserved and how they were preserved. This book summarizes recent progress in the fields of: (1) the cellular preservation of early microbial life; and (2) the early evolution of macroscopic animal life, including the Ediacaran biota. Deciphering the evidence for early life requires some degree of exceptional preservation, employment of state-of-the-art techniques and also an understanding gleaned from Phanerozoic lagerstätte and modern analogues. This integrated approach to understanding fossils, combined with adoption of the null hypothesis that all putative traces of life are abiotic until proved otherwise, characterized the work of Martin Brasier, as is well demonstrated by the papers in this book.

Supplementary material: A chronological listing of all Martin Brasier’s publications is available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3727696

Gold Open Access: This article is published under the terms of the CC-BY 3.0 license.

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Contents

Geological Society

Earth System Evolution and Early Life: A Celebration of the Work of Martin Brasier

A. T. Brasier
A. T. Brasier
University of Aberdeen, UK
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D. Mcilroy
D. Mcilroy
Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada
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N. McLoughlin
N. McLoughlin
Rhodes University, South Africa
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Geological Society of London
Volume
448
ISBN electronic:
9781786202932
Publication date:
January 01, 2017

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