Abstract

The Avalon Assemblage (Ediacaran, late Neoproterozoic) provides some of the oldest evidence of diverse macroscopic life and underpins current understanding of the early evolution of epibenthic communities. However, its overall diversity and provincial variability are poorly constrained and are based largely on biotas preserved in Newfoundland, Canada. We report coeval high-diversity biotas from Charnwood Forest, UK, which share at least 60% of their genera in common with ones in Newfoundland. This indicates that substantial taxonomic exchange took place between different regions of Avalonia, probably facilitated by ocean currents, and suggests that a diverse deepwater biota may already have been widespread at the time. Contrasts in the relative abundance of prostrate versus erect taxa likely record differential sensitivity to physical environmental parameters (hydrodynamic regime, substrate) and highlight their significance in controlling community structure.

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