Abstract

The 2.0–1.8-billion-year-old Stirling Range Formation in southwestern Australia preserves the deposits of a siliciclastic shoreline formed under the influence of storms, longshore currents, and tidal currents. Sandstones contain a megascopic fossil biota represented by discoidal fossils similar to the Ediacaran Aspidella Billings, 1872, as well as ridge pairs preserved in positive hyporelief on the soles of channel-fill sandstones bounded by mud drapes. The ridges run parallel or nearly parallel for most of their length, meeting in a closed loop at one end and opening with a slight divergence at the opposite end. The ridges are interpreted as casts of sediment-laden mucus strings formed by the movement of multicellular or syncytial organisms along a muddy surface. The taxa Myxomitodes stirlingensis n. igen., n. isp., are introduced for these traces. The Stirling biota was roughly coeval with other presumed multicellular eukaryotes appearing after a long period of profound environmental changes involving a rise in ambient oxygen levels, similar to that which preceded the Cambrian explosion. The failure of multicellular life to diversify during most of the Proterozoic may be due to environmental constraints related to the comparatively low level of oxidation of the world oceans.

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