The Fezouata fossils of Morocco; an extraordinary record of marine life in the Early Ordovician
The discovery of the Fezouata biota in the latest Tremadocian of southeastern Morocco has significantly changed our understanding of the early Phanerozoic radiation. The shelly fossil record shows a well-recognized pattern of macroevolutionary stasis between the Cambrian Explosion and the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event, but the rich soft-bodied Fezouata biota paints a different evolutionary picture. The Fezouata assemblage includes a considerable component of Cambrian holdovers alongside a surprising number of crown group taxa previously unknown to have evolved by the Early Ordovician. Study of the Fezouata biota is in its early stages, and future discoveries will continue to enrich our view of the dynamics of the early Phanerozoic radiation and of the nature of the fossil record.