Geochemical evidence suggests that terminal Ediacaran (ca. 551–539 Ma) oceans experienced expansive anoxia and dynamic redox conditions, which are expected to have impacted animal distribution and behaviors. However, fossil evidence for oxygen-related behaviors of terminal Ediacaran animals is poorly documented. Here, we report a terminal Ediacaran trace fossil that records redox-regulated behaviors. This trace fossil, Yichnus levis new ichnogenus and new ichnospecies, consists of short and uniserially aligned segments of horizontal burrows that are closely associated with microbial mats. Thin-section analysis shows that the trace-making animal moved repeatedly in and out of microbial mats, with mat-burrowing intervals interspersed by epibenthic intermissions. This animal is hypothesized to have been a bilaterian exploring an oxygen oasis in microbial mats. Such intermittent burrowing behavior reflects challenging and dynamic redox conditions in both the water column and microbial mats, highlighting the close relationship between terminal Ediacaran animals and redox dynamics.
Research Article|September 23, 2019
Surfing in and on microbial mats: Oxygen-related behavior of a terminal Ediacaran bilaterian animal
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Shuhai Xiao, Zhe Chen, Chuanming Zhou, Xunlai Yuan; Surfing in and on microbial mats: Oxygen-related behavior of a terminal Ediacaran bilaterian animal. Geology doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/G46474.1
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