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The Proterozoic record of eukaryotes

Phoebe A. Cohen and Francis A. Macdonald
The Proterozoic record of eukaryotes
Paleobiology (September 2015) 41 (4): 610-632

Abstract

Proterozoic strata host evidence of global "Snowball Earth" glaciations, large perturbations to the carbon cycle, proposed changes in the redox state of oceans, the diversification of microscopic eukaryotes, and the rise of metazoans. Over the past half century, the number of fossils described from Proterozoic rocks has increased exponentially. These discoveries have occurred alongside an increased understanding of the Proterozoic Earth system and the geological context of fossil occurrences, including improved age constraints. However, the evaluation of relationships between Proterozoic environmental change and fossil diversity has been hampered by several factors, particularly lithological and taphonomic biases. Here we compile and analyze the current record of eukaryotic fossils in Proterozoic strata to assess the effect of biases and better constrain diversity through time. Our results show that mean within assemblage diversity increases through the Proterozoic Eon due to an increase in high diversity assemblages, and that this trend is robust to various external factors including lithology and paleogeographic location. In addition, assemblage composition changes dramatically through time. Most notably, robust recalcitrant taxa appear in the early Neoproterozoic Era, only to disappear by the beginning of the Ediacaran Period. Within assemblage diversity is significantly lower in the Cryogenian Period than in the preceding and following intervals, but the short duration of the nonglacial interlude and unusual depositional conditions may present additional biases. In general, large scale patterns of diversity are robust while smaller scale patterns are difficult to discern through the lens of lithological, taphonomic, and geographic variability.


ISSN: 0094-8373
EISSN: 1938-5331
Coden: PALBBM
Serial Title: Paleobiology
Serial Volume: 41
Serial Issue: 4
Title: The Proterozoic record of eukaryotes
Affiliation: Williams College, Department of Geosciences, Williamstown, MA, United States
Pages: 610-632
Published: 201509
Text Language: English
Publisher: Paleontological Society, Lawrence, KS, United States
References: 113
Accession Number: 2016-005436
Categories: Invertebrate paleontology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. sketch map
Secondary Affiliation: Harvard University, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute.
Update Code: 201603
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