Charnia from the Ediacara biota is here examined in terms of its growth and development. The Ediacara biota comes from the critical period of evolution just before the Cambrian Explosion and is key to our understanding of the origin of animal life. We show that Charnia cannot be related to the modern cnidarian group the sea pens (Pennatulacea) with which it has for so long been compared, as generative zones cannot be homologized between these forms.

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