Three-dimensional preservation of algae and animal embryos in a Neoproterozoic phosphorite

  title={Three-dimensional preservation of algae and animal embryos in a Neoproterozoic phosphorite},
  author={Shuhai Xiao and Yun Zhang and Andrew H. Knoll},
Phosphorites of the late Neoproterozoic (570 ± 20 Myr BP) Doushantuo Formation, southern China, preserve an exceptional record of multicellular life from just before the Ediacaran radiation of macroscopic animals. Abundant thalli with cellular structures preserved in three-dimensional detail show that latest-Proterozoic algae already possessed many of the anatomical and reproductive features seen in the modern marine flora. Embryos preserved in early cleavage stages indicate that the divergence… 

Experimental mineralization of crustacean eggs: new implications for the fossilization of Precambrian–Cambrian embryos

Experiments on eggs of the marbled crayfish Procambarus indicate a close link between early mineralization and rapid anaerobic decay of the endochorional envelope and the mechanisms of decay, preservation of surface structures, and mineral replacement in the experiment were likely similar during fossilization of Cambrian embryos.

Precambrian animal diversity: putative phosphatized embryos from the Doushantuo Formation of China.

Putative fossil embryos and larvae from the Precambrian phosphorite rocks of the Doushantuo Formation in Southwest China have been examined in thin section and identified what appear to be modern cnidarian developmental stages, including both anthozoan planula larvae and hydrozoan embryos.

Experimental mineralization of invertebrate eggs and the preservation of Neoproterozoic embryos

It is shown that rapid mineralization of invertebrate eggs is possible under laboratory conditions, and it is demonstrated that eggs, and probably small embryos, can be preserved in the absence of larger organisms as a source of phosphorus or calcium.

Eumetazoan fossils in terminal proterozoic phosphorites?

  • S. XiaoX. YuanA. Knoll
  • Geography, Environmental Science
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 2000
Evidence for Doushantuo eumetazoans is provided by millimeter-scale tubes that display tabulation and apical budding characteristic of some Cnidaria, especially the extinct tabulates.

Modular Construction of Early Ediacaran Complex Life Forms

Newly discovered, exceptionally preserved, soft-bodied fossils near Spaniard's Bay in eastern Newfoundland exhibit features not previously described from Ediacaran (terminal Neoproterozoic) fossils.


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.

Complex embryos displaying bilaterian characters from Precambrian Doushantuo phosphate deposits, Weng'an, Guizhou, China

These embryos provide further evidence for the presence of bilaterian animals in the Doushantuo biota and indicate that the last common ancestor of the bilaterians lived much earlier than is usually thought.

Fossil preservation in the Neoproterozoic Doushantuo phosphorite Lagerstatte, South China.

The same processes that gave rise to Phanerozoic phosphatized Lagerstatten--phosphatic encrustation, and impregnation, probably mediated by microbial activity--effected soft-tissue preservation in the Doushantuo Lagerstatte.

The Weng'an Biota (Doushantuo Formation): an Ediacaran window on soft-bodied and multicellular microorganisms

It is argued that, although the Weng'an Biota includes forms that could be animals, none can currently be assigned to this group with confidence, Nonetheless, the biota offers a rare and valuable window on the evolution of multicellular and soft-bodied organisms in the prelude to the Cambrian radiation.



A bangiophyte red alga from the Proterozoic of arctic Canada.

Morphological details, especially the presence of multiseriate filaments composed of radially arranged wedge- shaped cells derived by longitudinal divisions from disc-shaped cells in uniseriate Filaments, indicate that the fossils are related to extant species in the genus Bangia.

Fossilized Metazoan Embryos from the Earliest Cambrian

Small globular fossils known as Olivooides and Markuelia from basal Cambrian rocks in China and Siberia contain directly developing embryos of metazoans, which shows similarities to coronate scyphozoans and to their probable Paleozoic representatives, the conulariids.

Biostratigraphic and Geochronologic Constraints on Early Animal Evolution

Two distinct evolutionary pulses, represented by the Vendian Ediacaran fauna and Cambrian small shelly faunas, are generally thought to characterize the emergence of macroscopic animals at the end of

Permineralized Fossils from the Terminal Proterozoic Doushantuo Formation, South China

Permineralized fossils of the terminal Proterozoic (600–550 Ma) Doushantuo Formation, China, provide an unusually clear window on biological diversity just before the Ediacaran radiation. In the

Prokaryotic and eukaryotic microfossils from a Proterozoic/Phanerozoic transition in China

Cherts of the Doushantuo Formation in the Yangtze Gorges, South China, contain a superbly preserved heterogeneous assemblage of bacteria, cyanobacteria, planktonic algae, submillimetre-sized burrows

Morphological reconstruction of Miaohephyton bifurcatum, a possible brown alga from the Neoproterozoic Doushantuo Formation, South China

This reinterpretation of Miaohephyton bifurcatum indicates that photosynthetic stramenopiles diversified during the Neoproterozoic Era along with the red and green algae.

Megascopic eukaryotic algae from the 2.1-billion-year-old negaunee iron-formation, Michigan.

Hundreds of specimens of spirally coiled, megascopic, carbonaceous fossils resembling Grypania spiralis (Walcott), have been found in the 2.1-billion-year-old Negaunee Iron-Formation at the Empire Mine, near Marquette, Michigan, placing the origin of organelle-bearing eukaryotic cells prior to 2.

Middle Cambrian Arthropod Embryos with Blastomeres

Fossil embryos from Duyun, southern China demonstrate that the basic paradigm for the growth of the invertebrate embryo has not changed in more than half a billion years.

New data on multicellular thallophytes and fragments of cellular tissues from Late Proterozoic phosphate rocks, South China

New fossil forms discovered from the local rock bed demonstrate the possible existence of a community with relatively high diversity in Wengan shallow sea and confirms that an evolutionary radiation of mctaphylcs look place during Ediacaran time, shortly after the Nantuo glacial epoch.

Early life on earth

This study is organized around three themes: the origin and early diversification of life during the Archean Eon; the maturation of life and the Earth during the long Proterozoic Eon; and the