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The Youngest Ediacaran Fossils from Southern Africa

Narbonne, Guy M. and Saylor, Beverly Z. and Grotzinger, John P. (1997) The Youngest Ediacaran Fossils from Southern Africa. Journal of Paleontology, 71 (6). pp. 953-967. ISSN 0022-3360.

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Discovery of fossils of the Ediacara biota near the top of the Spitzkopf Member at farm Swartpunt extends the known range of these remains in Namibia more than 600 m to near the sub-Cambrian unconformity. The fossiliferous beds occur approximately 100 m above a volcanic ash dated at 543 ± 1 Ma, and thus may be the youngest Proterozoic Ediacara-type fossils reported anywhere in the world. Fossils are preserved within and on the tops of dm-thick beds of storm-deposited sandstone at two stratigraphic levels; the environment is interpreted as open marine, generally calm but with episodic disruptions by storm waves, and probably within the euphotic zone. The presence of Pteridinium carolinaense( St. Jean), which is also known from the classic sections in Ediacara and the White Sea among others, reinforces evidence from geochronology and chemostratigraphy that the Swartpunt section is terminal Neoproterozoic in age. The new genus and species Swartpuntia germsi is a large, multifoliate frond that exhibits at least three quilted petaloids. Macroscopically, Swartpuntia resembles Pteridinium and Ediacara-type fronds such as Charniodiscus traditionally interpreted as Cnidaria, whereas microscopically it exhibits segmentation that is remarkably similar to that of the putative worm Dickinsonia. Combination of diagnostic characters of these supposedly disparate groups in a single species suggests that many species of quilted Ediacaran organisms were more similar to each other than they were to any modern groups, and provides support for the concept of the "Vendobionta" as a late Neoproterozoic group of mainly multifoliate organisms with a distinctive quilted segmentation.

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Grotzinger, John P.0000-0001-9324-1257
Additional Information:© 1997 Paleontological Society, Inc. Accepted 9 June 1997. Financial support for our joint work was provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC OPG2648 to GMN) and the National Science Foundation (NSF EAR-9628257 to JPG). The Namibian Geological Survey and especially K. H. Hoffmann provided advice and logistical support. We are also grateful to A. Fitzgerald for field assistance, J. Glew for the line drawings and diorama of Swartpuntia, and B. McFarlane and E. Coracchia for assistance with photography. B. Runnegar (U.C.L.A.) provided helpful discussion and plaster copies of Nasepia. Critical reviews by S. Conway Morris (Cambridge), J. G. Gehling (University of South Australia), J. W. Valentine and B. Waggoner (U.C. Berkley) and M. R. Walter (Macquarie University) also improved the manuscript. The International Geological Correlation Program (IGCP Project 320-Neoproterozoic Events and Resources) provided the forum for our international and interdisciplinary study. This study was completed while GMN was on study leave at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.
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Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)OPG2648
Issue or Number:6
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Official Citation:The Youngest Ediacaran Fossils from Southern Africa Guy M. Narbonne, Beverly Z. Saylor and John P. Grotzinger Journal of Paleontology , Vol. 71, No. 6 (Nov., 1997), pp. 953-967 Published by: Paleontological Society Article Stable URL:
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ID Code:36984
Deposited On:20 Feb 2013 19:30
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 04:43

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