Progress on understanding the evolution of animal life and the biosphere during the Precambrian–Cambrian transition
2017. "Progress on understanding the evolution of animal life and the biosphere during the Precambrian–Cambrian transition", 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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New detrital zircon ages confirm that the Neoproterozoic strata of the southeastern North China Craton (NCC) are mostly of early Tonian age, but that the Gouhou Formation, previously assigned to the Tonian, is Cambrian in age. A discordant hiatus of >150–300 myr occurs across the NCC, spanning most of the late Tonian, Cryogenian, Ediacaran and early Cambrian periods. This widespread unconformable surface is akin to the Great Unconformity seen elsewhere in the world and highlights a major shift in depositional style from largely erosional, marked by low rates of net deposition, during the mid- to late Neoproterozoic to high rates of transgressive deposition during the mid- to late Cambrian. The age spectra for the southeastern NCC and northern India are consistent with a provenance affinity linking the NCC and East Gondwana by c. 510 Ma.
Supplementary material: Sample descriptions, sampling GPS locations and a compiled dataset of detrital zircon U–Pb LA-ICP-MS dating results are available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3571119
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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.