Ichnological evidence for the Cambrian explosion in the Ediacaran to Cambrian succession of Tanafjord, Finnmark, northern Norway
Duncan McIlroy, Martin D. Brasier, 2017. "Ichnological evidence for the Cambrian explosion in the Ediacaran to Cambrian succession of Tanafjord, Finnmark, northern Norway", 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 Ediacaran to Cambrian transition of the Digermul Peninsula consists of an ichnologically rich, thick, conformable, shallow marine siliciclastic succession that crosses the Neoproterozoic–Cambrian boundary. The Tanafjord section has been independently dated by published palynological and new body fossil discoveries. As is also observed at the current Global Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP) for the Ediacaran–Cambrian boundary at Fortune Head in Newfoundland, Canada, there is a marked increase in burrow size and inferred behavioural diversity around the inferred boundary level at a surface without a significant hiatus. The diversity of this trace fossil assemblage presents an opportunity to compare the ichnological first appearance datums between the GSSP and another sedimentologically similar, but palaeogeographically remote, succession. We found that the first appearance datums of taxa in Finnmark broadly support the definition and stratigraphic extents of the Harlaniella podolica, Treptichnus pedum, Rusophycus avalonensis and Cruziana tenella zones. Our work shows that there is a marked increase in ichnodiversity in the lowermost Fortunian, mostly in the form of shallow tier traces. The main post-Fortunian ichnological innovation is the evolution of bulk sediment deposit feeding that is first evidenced by spreiten burrows at around the base of Cambrian Stage 2 in both the GSSP and in the Tanafjord section.
Supplementary material: Additional images of trace fossils from the studied section are available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3462561
Gold Open Access: This article is published under the terms of the CC-BY 3.0 license.
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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.