Abstract

Neoproterozoic carbonate successions provide a new taphonomic window into the diversification of eukaryotes. We report recently discovered macroscopic organic warty sheets (MOWS) in macerates of limestone from the ca. 662–635 Ma Taishir Formation (Tsagaan Olom Group, Mongolia). Sheets are applanate. One surface contains raised ridges and conspicuous, ∼ 100-µm-tall warty protuberances with depressed tops that enclose internal cavities containing cellular structures. The Taishir MOWS may be the remains of unusual bacterial, protistan, or fungal biofilms, or a previously undocumented, extinct taxon. However, multiple lines of evidence including the morphology of warty protuberances and the presence of cellular architecture within protuberances support the interpretation of MOWS as marine algae, perhaps a member of the Rhodophyta. Regardless of their specific taxonomic affiliation, MOWS increase the diversity of biota reported from the Cryogenian glacial interlude and indicate the presence of macroscopic and morphologically complex multicellular organisms in the Cryogenian.

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