Abstract

Thin (<150 μm) micritic veneers lining crypts in Paleozoic and Mesozoic reef, microbial, and bioclastic carbonates have the dimensions and architecture of modern uncalcified bacterial biofilm. Morphologic attributes include rounded aggregate nanofabric, internal channels, external towers, mushrooms, and plumes. All can be interpreted as characteristics of attached bacterial communities, i.e., aggregates as microcolonies, originally embedded in a matrix of extracellular polymeric substances; channels as water conduits and/or uncolonized nutrient-poor spaces; external protuberances as localized growths; and plumes as surface streamers. Cryptic habitat favored pristine biofilm preservation by precluding disturbance and overgrowth, and suggests aphotic and anoxic conditions. These examples provide diagnostic morphologic criteria for wider recognition of biofilm in Phanerozoic and older carbonates.

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