Mary L . Droser

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An enigmatic stepwise increase in oxygen in the late Precambrian is widely considered a prerequisite for the expansion of animal life. Accumulation of oxygen requires organic matter burial in sediments, which is largely controlled by the sheltering or preservational effects of detrital clay minerals in modern marine continental margin depocenters. Here, we(More)
The trace fossil record is important in determining the timing of the appearance of bilaterian animals. A conservative estimate puts this time at approximately equal 555 million years ago. The preservational potential of traces made close to the sediment-water interface is crucial to detecting early benthic activity. Our studies on earliest Cambrian(More)
Cambrian konservat-lagerstätten are the most significant fossil deposits for our understanding of the initiation of Phanerozoic life. Although many modes of preservation may occur, these deposits most frequently contain nonmineralized fossils preserved in the form of kerogenized carbon films, a rare yet important taphonomic pathway that has not previously(More)
The trace fossil record is an important element in discussions of the timing of appearance of bilaterian animals. A conservative approach does not extend this record beyond about 560–555 Ma. Crucial to the utility of trace fossils in detecting early benthic activity is the preservational potential of traces made close to the sediment–water interface. Our(More)
The past two decades have seen extensive analyses of the taxonomic severity of major biodiversity crises in geologic time. In contrast, we propose here an alternative analysis of the ecological severity of biodiversity crises. It is clear that the ecological impacts of the five Phanerozoic biodiversity crises were not all the same. Ranking the five(More)
There was a major diversification known as the Ordovician Radiation, in the period immediately following the Cambrian. This event is unique in taxonomic, ecologic and biogeographic aspects.While all of the phyla but one were established during the Cambrian explosion, taxonomic increases during the Ordovician were manifest at lower taxonomic levels although(More)
Assemblages of clay minerals are routinely used as proxies for paleoclimatic change and paleoenvironmental conditions in Phanerozoic rocks. However, this tool is rarely applied in older sedimentary units. In this paper, the clay mineralogy of the Doushantuo Formation in South China is documented, providing constraints on depositional conditions of the(More)
Fossils of the Ediacara biota offer our earliest insight into diverse macroscopic life on this planet. In particular, given the diversity and range of exquisite soft-bodied preservation, the potential for unraveling aspects of the paleobiology and paleoecology is great. Clearly, however, there can be a taphonomic overprint that dictates how complete the(More)
The ‘‘ptychopariid’’ Elrathia kingii is the most familiar and abundant trilobite in North America, but it occurs at only a few localities in the Middle Cambrian Wheeler Formation of Utah. E. kingii’s unusual abundance and typically monospecific community association resulted from a novel, opportunistic ecological strategy. We infer that the trilobite(More)
Bioturbation long has been ‘blamed’ for eliminating late Proterozoic-style sedimentary structures and fabrics. While the presence of diverse and complex burrows in lowermost Cambrian strata is indisputable, analysis of Precambrian– Cambrian successions in southeast Newfoundland demonstrate that this burrowing style did not produce typical Phanerozoic-style(More)