Um fóssil da fauna de Edicara incomparavelmente preservado com evidência direta de um plano corporal tipo quilt

terça-feira, julho 27, 2010

A uniquely preserved Ediacaran fossil with direct evidence for a quilted bodyplan

  1. Shuhai Xiao*,
  2. Bing Shen*
  3. Chuanming Zhou
  4. Guwei Xie, and
  5. Xunlai Yuan
-Author Affiliations
  1. *Department of Geosciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061; and Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, Nanjing 210008, China
  1. Edited by Andrew H. Knoll, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (received for review March 16, 2005)


Ediacara fossils are among the oldest known macroscopic and complex life forms. Their bodyplan, ecology, and phylogenetic affinities have been controversial. On the basis of taphonomic observations, Seilacher [Seilacher, A. (1989) Lethaia 22, 229–239] proposed that the core elements of the Ediacara biota, the vendobionts, were constructed with serially or fractally arranged quilts or tube-like units. However, anatomy of quilt walls has been rarely reported, because most Ediacara fossils are preserved as casts and molds in siliciclastic rocks with inadequate morphological resolution. Here, we report an Ediacara form, uniquely preserved in situ and in three dimensions with its organic walls cast by early diagenetic calcite, from bituminous limestone of the 551- to 542-mega-annum Dengying Formation of South China. Despite diagenetic tampering, serial sections show that the Dengying form consists of biserially arranged, tube-like quilts, each with two vertical side walls, a floor, a roof, and an open distal end. Three-dimensional morphological complexity of the Dengying form excludes a microbial interpretation but is broadly consistent with vendobionts. Unlike classic frondose vendobionts sensu Seilacher, however, the Dengying form probably lacked a smooth margin and had distally open quilts. It probably lived procumbently at or near the water–sediment interface and shows evidence for substrate utilization. Despite its uncertain phylogeny, ontogeny, and functional biology, the Dengying form adds to Ediacaran biodiversity, places key constraints on the ecology and extinction of Ediacara organisms, and points to the need to explore an alternative taphonomic window for Ediacara biology.


  •   To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:
  • Author contributions: S.X. designed research; S.X., B.S., C.Z., G.X., and X.Y. performed research; S.X., B.S., and C.Z. analyzed data; and S.X. and B.S. wrote the paper.
  • This paper was submitted directly (Track II) to the PNAS office.
  • Abbreviation: Ma, mega-annum.
  •  § In this paper, “Ediacaran fossils” refer to fossils of the Ediacaran Period (1), whereas “Ediacara fossils” refer to macroscopic soft-bodied fossils similar to those preserved in the Ediacara Member of South Australia (2).
  •   Bowring, S., Myrow, P., Landing, E., Ramezani, J. & Grotzinger, J. (2003)Geophys. Res. Abstr. 5, 13219.

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