Abstract

Elainabella deepspringensis new genus new species is a one-mm-wide, non-biomineralized, three-dimensionally preserved fossil with segmented branches and apparent cellular structure. A single specimen was recovered from an interval of black shale within the Ediacaran portion of the Esmeralda Member of the Deep Spring Formation at Mt. Dunfee in Esmeralda County, Nevada. We interpret the fossil to be the thallus of a multicellular alga of uncertain division. EDS spectral analysis indicates that the exceptional preservation is not due to phosphatization or pyritization. Rather, it appears to be a case of Burgess Shale-type preservation, involving the kerogenization of non-mineralizing organisms. The fossil-bearing shale is closely associated with stromatolites, and we suggest that E. deepspringensis may have been an epibiont on stromatolites or other firm substrates. This is the first multicellular alga and the first occurrence of Burgess Shale-type preservation reported from the Ediacaran of Laurentia.

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