▪ Abstract 

The Ediacara biota (575–542 Ma) marks the first appearance of large, architecturally complex organisms in Earth history. Present evidence suggests that the Ediacara biota included a mixture of stem- and crown-group radial animals, stem-group bilaterian animals, “failed experiments” in animal evolution, and perhaps representatives of other eukaryotic kingdoms. These soft-bodied organisms were preserved under (or rarely within) event beds of sand or volcanic ash, and four distinct preservational styles (Flinders-, Fermeuse-, Conception-, and Nama-style) profoundly affected the types of organisms and features that could be preserved. Even the earliest Ediacaran communities (575–565 Ma) show vertical and lateral niche subdivision of the sessile, benthic, filter-feeding organisms, which is strikingly like that of Phanerozoic and modern communities. Later biological and ecological innovations include mobility (>555 Ma), calcification (550 Ma), and predation (<549 Ma). The Ediacara biota abruptly disappeared 542 million years ago, probably as a consequence of mass extinction andor biological interactions with the rapidly evolving animals of the Cambrian explosion.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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