A new assemblage of juvenile Ediacaran fronds from the Drook Formation, Newfoundland
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A new assemblage of frondose and filamentous Ediacaran macrofossils is reported from the upper Drook Formation of Pigeon Cove, Newfoundland. The frondose forms, all less than 3 cm in length, are considered to represent the juvenile growth stages of Ediacaran organisms including Charnia spp. and Trepassia spp. This is the first report of an assemblage wholly dominated by such small juvenile rangeomorph forms, and provides insights into the ontogeny and ecology of these earliest members of the Ediacara biota. The fronds occur alongside filamentous forms with similarities to microbial taxa, and both morphotypes are considered to postdate an assemblage of large ivesheadiomorphs on the same bedding plane. If so, the assemblage represents one of the oldest documented examples of secondary community succession. The new Pigeon Cove fossils also extend the stratigraphic ranges of several key frondose taxa (Charnia masoni, Charniodiscus spp.) back into some of the oldest known macrofossil-bearing strata. These revised ranges lend support to the suggestion that the previously observed low diversity within the Drook Formation may represent a combination of taphonomic and sampling artefacts. Furthermore, this assemblage implies that the diversification of architectural morphotypes within the Ediacara biota took place earlier than hitherto suspected.