The evolutionary trajectory of early complex life on Earth is interpreted largely from the fossils of the Precambrian soft-bodied Ediacara Biota, which appeared and evolved during a time of dynamic biogeochemical and environmental fluctuation in the global ocean. The Ediacara Biota is historically divided into three successive Assemblages—the Avalon, the White Sea, and the Nama—which are marked by the appearance of novel biological traits and ecological strategies. In particular, the younger White Sea and Nama Assemblages record a “second wave” of ecological innovations, which included not only the development of uniquely Ediacaran body plans and ecologies, such as matground adaptations, but also the dual emergence of bilaterian-grade animals and Phanerozoic-style ecological innovations, including spatial heterogeneity, complex reproductive strategies, ecospace utilization, motility, and substrate competition. The late Ediacaran was an evolutionarily dynamic time characterized by strong environmental control over the distribution of taxa in time and space.


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