The palaeolatitudinal distribution of the Ediacaran macrobiota

Posted on 22.07.2021 - 08:52
Macrofossils of the late Ediacaran Period (c. 579–539 Ma) document diverse, complex multicellular eukaryotes, including early animals, prior to the Cambrian radiation of metazoan phyla. To investigate causal relationships between environmental perturbations, biotic responses, and early metazoan evolutionary trajectories, it is vital to distinguish between evolutionary and ecological controls on global Ediacaran macrofossil distribution. The contributions of temporal, palaeoenvironmental and lithological factors in shaping observed variation in assemblage taxonomic composition between Ediacaran macrofossil sites are widely discussed, but the role of palaeogeography remains ambiguous. Here we investigate the influence of palaeolatitude on the spatial distribution of Ediacaran macrobiota through the late Ediacaran Period, using two leading palaeogeographic reconstructions. We find that overall generic diversity was distributed across all palaeolatitudes. Amongst specific groups, the distributions of candidate 'Bilateral' and Frondomorph taxa exhibit weakly statistically significant and statistically significant differences between low and high palaeolatitudes within our favoured palaeogeographic reconstruction, respectively, whilst Algal, Tubular, Soft-bodied and Biomineralising taxa show no significant difference. Recognition of statistically significant palaeolatitudinal differences in the distribution of certain morphogroups highlights the importance of considering palaeolatitudinal influences when interrogating trends in Ediacaran taxon distributions.


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Boddy, Catherine E.; Mitchell, Emily G.; Merdith, Andrew; Liu, Alexander G. (2021): The palaeolatitudinal distribution of the Ediacaran macrobiota. Geological Society of London. Collection.


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