Within the upper Ediacaran Esmeralda Member of the Deep Spring Formation in southeastern California, USA, an ~3 m stratigraphic interval contains multiple clastic bedding surfaces with enigmatic, three-dimensionally preserved corrugated tubes (<60 cm in length and 6 cm in width). When viewed as fragments and in situ on bedding planes, these resemble larger versions of annulated, tubular soft-bodied macrofossils that are common in late Ediacaran biotic assemblages regionally and globally. Despite superficial similarities to casts and molds of body fossils preserved in correlative strata, we suggest these tubes are instead previously undescribed organosedimentary structures that developed through differential compaction of rippled heterolithic interbeds bound by pyritized microbial mat layers. These distinctive structures formed within peritidal settings in the latest Ediacaran Period as the result of specific ecological and environmental conditions marked by flourishing microbial mat communities and dysoxic sediments. This interpretation may inform the biogenicity of other structures previously reported as macroscopic body or trace fossils.

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