THE EDIACARA BIOTA: Neoproterozoic Origin of Animals and Their Ecosystems

  title={THE EDIACARA BIOTA: Neoproterozoic Origin of Animals and Their Ecosystems},
  author={Guy M. Narbonne},
  journal={Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences},
  • G. Narbonne
  • Published 31 May 2005
  • Geography, Environmental Science
  • Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
▪ Abstract The Ediacara biota (575–542 Ma) marks the first appearance of large, architecturally complex organisms in Earth history. Present evidence suggests that the Ediacara biota included a mixture of stem- and crown-group radial animals, stem-group bilaterian animals, “failed experiments” in animal evolution, and perhaps representatives of other eukaryotic kingdoms. These soft-bodied organisms were preserved under (or rarely within) event beds of sand or volcanic ash, and four distinct… 

Figures from this paper

Ecological Expansion and Extinction in the Late Ediacaran: Weighing the Evidence for Environmental and Biotic Drivers.

The Ediacara Biota, Earth's earliest communities of complex, macroscopic, multicellular organisms, appeared during the late Ediacaran Period, just prior to the Cambrian Explosion, and is likely to have been part of an ecological and evolutionary continuum.

Ediacara biota flourished in oligotrophic and bacterially dominated marine environments across Baltica

Results show that the biomarker assemblages encompass an exceptionally wide range of hopane/sterane ratios, which is a broad measure of bacterial/eukaryotic source organism inputs, and propose the presence of a microbial loop bolstered by bacteria.

Palaeobiology and diversification of Proterozoic-Cambrian photosynthetic eukaryotes

Agić, H. 2015. Palaeobiology and diversification of Proterozoic-Cambrian photosynthetic eukaryotes. Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology

How well do fossil assemblages of the Ediacara Biota tell time

Patterns of origination, evolution, and extinction of early animal life on this planet are largely interpreted from the fossils of the Precambrian soft-bodied Ediacara Biota, spanning nearly 40 m.y.

A diverse Ediacara assemblage survived under low-oxygen conditions

The Ediacaran biota were soft-bodied organisms, many with enigmatic phylogenetic placement and ecology, living in marine environments between 574 and 539 million years ago. Some studies hypothesize a

Affirming life aquatic for the Ediacara biota in China and Australia

The Ediacara biota has been long championed as a snapshot of the marine ecosystem on the eve of the Cambrian explosion, providing important insights into the early evolution of animals. Fossiliferous

Osmotrophy in modular Ediacara organisms

The results support the viability of osmotrophic feeding in rangeomorphs and erniettomorphs, help explain their taphonomic peculiarities, and point to the possible importance of earliest macroorganisms for cycling dissolved organic carbon that may have been present in abundance during Ediacaran times.

Ediacaran pre-placozoan diploblasts in the Avalonian biota: the role of chemosynthesis in the evolution of early animal life

It is argued for the presence of a simple, diploblastic body plan in these early animals and the means by which they probably derived nutrients from chemosynthetic bacteria thriving at the sediment–water interface are discussed.

Biotic replacement and mass extinction of the Ediacara biota

This study provides the first quantitative palaeoecological evidence to suggest that evolutionary innovation, ecosystem engineering and biological interactions may have ultimately caused the first mass extinction of complex life.



Ediacaran biota: The dawn of animal life in the shadow of giant protists

Abstract Functional, constructional, and preservational criteria led to a reinterpretation of seemingly complex trace fossils and the majority of assumed metazoan body fossils from Vendian

The Ediacaran Biotas in Space and Time1

  • B. Waggoner
  • Environmental Science, Geography
    Integrative and comparative biology
  • 2003
It is concluded that the Ediacaran organisms show a diverse range of responses to various environmental parameters, and there is no basis for classifying them all as having a single body plan and mode of life.

Ediacara-type fossils in Cambrian sediments

Fossil assemblages that preserve soft-bodied organisms are essential for our understanding of the composition and diversity of past life. The worldwide terminal Proterozoic Ediacara-type fossils

Paleoecology of the oldest known animal communities: Ediacaran assemblages at Mistaken Point, Newfoundland

Abstract Ediacaran fossils at Mistaken Point, southeastern Newfoundland (terminal Neoproterozoic; 565–575 Ma) represent the oldest known animal communities. In contrast to most Phanerozoic fossil

The garden of Ediacara

The faunal change across the Proterozoic-Cambrian transition can be interpreted as a shift from marine communities composed largely of soft-bodied, possibly photoautotrophic animals to communities

Functional and Ecological Aspects of Ediacaran Assemblages

Reference to fossil imprints of soft-bodied Ediacaran metazoans made by Hill and Bonney (1877, p. 757) recorded two of “those curious arrangements of concentric rings which have been supposed to be

Evidence of organic structures in Ediacara-type fossils and associated microbial mats

Ediacara-type fossils represent a group of soft-bodied organisms, mainly known from imprints in Proterozoic coarse-grained siliciclastic sedimentary rocks. Circular compressions of Beltanelliformis


  • J. Dzik
  • Geography, Environmental Science
  • 1999
Unlike the celebrated Ediacara fossils, those from the roughly coeval localities of the Kuibis Quarzite of Namibia are preserved not as imprints on the sandstone bedding plane, but


Phosphorites of the uppermost Neoproterozoic Doushantuo Formation exposed at Weng'an, South China, contain globular microfossils characterized by distinctively sculpted outer coverings and precise patterns of cell division, which support their reinterpretation as the eggs and embryos of early animals.

The enigmatic Ediacaran (late Precambrian) genus Rangea and related forms

Investigation of the preservation and structure of Rangea indicates that it was probably a colonial octocoral consisting of a large tapering primary polyp, or oozoid, and a number of leaf-shaped, conjoined fronds which bore the feeding polyps; it is suggested to belong to a group of early Ediacaran anthozoans which provide a fossil link between the still living Telestacea and Pennatulacea.