The preservation, origins and interactions of early multicellular organisms – the Torridonian Supergroup, NW Scotland
2017. "The preservation, origins and interactions of early multicellular organisms – the Torridonian Supergroup, NW Scotland", Earth System Evolution and Early Life: A Celebration of the Work of Martin Brasier, A. T. Brasier, D. McIlroy, N. McLoughlin
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The degree of structural order in the organic carbon preserved in grey–black shales of the Neoproterozoic Torridon Group was characterized using Raman spectroscopy. All the samples contained kerogen rather than graphite, which is consistent with a low level of metamorphism. Samples of shale from the Diabaig Formation from six widely separated localities exhibited a consistently greater structural order than shales from five localities in formations higher in the Torridon Group. This supports previous models invoking an unconformity between the Diabaig Formation and the rest of the Torridon Group. The data further suggested that the Diabaig Formation experienced an additional episode of heating in the late stages of Grampian deformation.
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This volume in memory of Professor Martin Brasier, which has many of his unfinished works, summarizes recent progress in some of the hottest topics in palaeobiology including cellular preservation of early microbial life and early evolution of macroscopic animal life, encompassing the Ediacara biota. The papers focus on how to decipher evidence for early life, which requires exceptional preservation, employment of state-of-the-art techniques and also an understanding gleaned from Phanerozoic lagerstätte and modern analogues. The papers also apply Martin’s MOFAOTYOF principle (my oldest fossils are older than your oldest fossils), requiring an integrated approach to understanding fossils. The adoption of the null-hypothesis that all putative traces of life are abiotic until proven otherwise, and the consideration of putative fossils within their spatial context, characterized the work of Martin Brasier, as is well demonstrated by the papers in this volume.