Skip to Main Content
Book Chapter

Post-fossilization processes and their implications for understanding Ediacaran macrofossil assemblages

By
Jack J. Matthews
Jack J. Matthews
1
Department of Earth Sciences, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John’s, NL, A1B 3X5, Canada
2
Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PW, UK
Search for other works by this author on:
Alexander G. Liu
Alexander G. Liu
3
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EQ, UK
Search for other works by this author on:
Duncan McIlroy
Duncan McIlroy
1
Department of Earth Sciences, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John’s, NL, A1B 3X5, Canada
Search for other works by this author on:
Published:
January 01, 2017

Abstract

Fossil assemblages from Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula preserve diverse examples of the enigmatic Ediacaran macrobiota, offering some of the earliest evidence for large and complex multicellular life. These fossils are exposed on extensive coastal bedding planes in extraordinary abundances, permitting palaeoecological studies based on census data from spatially extensive palaeocommunities. Such studies have been used to constrain the reproductive strategy and phylogenetic placement of Ediacaran organisms. Geological mapping and stratigraphic correlation in the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve reveal that some fossil-bearing surfaces can be tracked over distances of several kilometres. These laterally extensive surfaces reveal that the modern processes by which the sediment overlying a fossil surface is removed may impose important controls on the observed composition of fossil assemblages. Weathering and erosion – along with factors associated with tectonics, metamorphism and discovery – are here grouped as ‘post-fossilization processes’ and introduce biases that are often not explicitly accounted for in palaeoecological studies. Specifically, post-fossilization processes may differentially influence the preservational fidelity of individual specimens on a given surface and generate features that could be mistaken for original morphological characters. We therefore recommend that post-fossilization processes must be considered when undertaking palaeoecological studies in Ediacaran successions in Newfoundland and, potentially, elsewhere.

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

You do not currently have access to this article.

Figures & Tables

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
Search for other works by this author on:
D. McIlroy
D. McIlroy
Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada
Search for other works by this author on:
N. McLoughlin
N. McLoughlin
Rhodes University, South Africa
Search for other works by this author on:
Geological Society of London
Volume
448
ISBN electronic:
9781786202932
Publication date:
January 01, 2017

GeoRef

References

Related

Citing Books via

Close Modal
This Feature Is Available To Subscribers Only

Sign In or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal