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Electron microscopy reveals evidence for simple multicellularity in the Proterozoic fossil Chuaria

Qing Tang, Pang Ke, Yuan Xunlai and Shuhai Xiao
Electron microscopy reveals evidence for simple multicellularity in the Proterozoic fossil Chuaria
Geology (Boulder) (January 2017) 45 (1): 75-78

Abstract

Multicellularity arose multiple times in the evolutionary history of eukaryotes, and simple multicellularity may have a deep history tracing back to the Paleoproterozoic. However, complex multicellular organisms with cellular and tissue differentiation did not appear in the fossil record until the Mesoproterozoic, and it is not until the Ediacaran Period (635-541 Ma) when diverse assemblages of complex multicellular eukaryotes evolved. In the intervening Tonian Period (ca. 1000-720 Ma), the fossil record of multicellular organisms is poorly documented. To address this knowledge gap, we investigated Chuaria and associated carbonaceous compression fossils from the Tonian Liulaobei Formation in North China. These fossils have been variously interpreted as unicellular or multicellular organisms. Our analysis using backscattered-electron scanning electron microscopy (BSE-SEM) revealed direct evidence for simple multicellularity in some of these fossils and suggests that Chuaria may have had a multicellular vegetative stage in its life cycle. This study demonstrates that BSE-SEM has the potential to unveil the hidden diversity of multicellular organisms in the Tonian Period, thus enriching our knowledge about the multiple origins of multicellularity in this critical geological period before Cryogenian glaciations.


ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Coden: GLGYBA
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 45
Serial Issue: 1
Title: Electron microscopy reveals evidence for simple multicellularity in the Proterozoic fossil Chuaria
Affiliation: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Department of Geosciences, Blacksburg, VA, United States
Pages: 75-78
Published: 201701
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 35
Accession Number: 2017-006061
Categories: General paleontology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: GSA Data Repository item 2017019
Illustration Description: illus. incl. geol. sketch map
N32°37'52" - N32°37'52", E116°46'00" - E116°46'00"
Secondary Affiliation: Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, CHN, China
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 the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201705
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