Abstract

The Precambrian-Cambrian (PC-C) boundary separates fossils representing two discrete evolutionary phases: the Neoproterozoic soft-bodied Ediacarian biotas and Cambrian small shelly faunas. The biological discontinuity is suspected to have been a result of mass extinction; however, recent discoveries of the Ediacarian biotas in Cambrian sediments have led to an understanding that the faunal change was gradual through the PC-C transition. Th/U ratios, which are high in oxidizing conditions and low in reducing conditions, show a considerable positive correlation with δ13C values at all studied sites of the PC-C boundary. This correlation indicates that reported δ13C variation across the PC-C boundary from numerous localities corresponds to redox variation in the depositional environment. The negative δ13C anomaly that occurs worldwide at the PC-C boundary, therefore, corresponds to the widespread development of an oxygen-deficient shallow marine environment. This finding suggests that widespread oceanic oxygen deficiency, which has been interpreted to reflect Phanerozoic mass extinction events, also occurred immediately before the Cambrian explosion.

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