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Confirming the metazoan character of a 565 Ma trace-fossil assemblage from Mistaken Point, Newfoundland

Alexander G. Liu, Duncan McIlroy, Jack J. Matthews and Martin D. Brasier
Confirming the metazoan character of a 565 Ma trace-fossil assemblage from Mistaken Point, Newfoundland
Palaios (August 2014) 29 (8): 420-430


Surface locomotory trace fossils from the Mistaken Point Formation of Newfoundland, dated at approximately 565 Ma, suggest that organisms capable of controlled locomotion and possessing muscular tissue may have existed among Avalonian Ediacaran macrofossil assemblages. Here we describe the Mistaken Point trace-fossil assemblage in full, discuss its stratigraphic context within the Mistaken Point Formation, and explore the competing hypotheses for the formation of the traces. We find that the trace fossils, preserved within a turbidite succession in a deep-marine depositional environment, are not attributable to abiogenic structures, to Ediacaran tubular or filamentous body fossils, to rangeomorph stems, or to a host of late Ediacaran and early Phanerozoic ichnofossils. Specimens within the assemblage show some similarities to the ichnogenera Helminthoidichnites and Archaeonassa, but discrepancies in certain aspects of their structure mean that we do not formally attribute them to these ichnotaxa at this time. The Mistaken Point ichnofossils possess morphological characteristics indicative of formation by an organism with a round base. Comparison with traces formed by modern organisms of such character appears to rule out formation by protistan, echinoderm, or annelid styles of movement, but is consistent with organisms moving via muscular controlled locomotion in a similar way to some modern mollusks and actinian cnidarians. We suggest therefore that the Mistaken Point trace-fossil assemblage reveals the presence of muscular metazoans in late Ediacaran deep-marine ecosystems. Such organisms cannot yet be attributed to specific phyla, but their inferred locomotory mechanisms share closest similarities with those utilized by extant actinians.

ISSN: 0883-1351
Serial Title: Palaios
Serial Volume: 29
Serial Issue: 8
Title: Confirming the metazoan character of a 565 Ma trace-fossil assemblage from Mistaken Point, Newfoundland
Affiliation: University of Cambridge, Department of Earth Sciences, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Pages: 420-430
Published: 201408
Text Language: English
Publisher: Society for Sedimentary Geology, Tulsa, OK, United States
References: 87
Accession Number: 2014-099702
Categories: Invertebrate paleontology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. strat. col., 2 tables, sketch map
N46°37'60" - N46°37'60", W53°10'60" - W53°10'60"
Secondary Affiliation: Memorial University of Newfoundland, GBR, United KingdomUniversity of Oxford, GBR, United Kingdom
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology), Tulsa, OK, United States
Update Code: 201450
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