Ediacaran biozones identified with network analysis provide evidence for pulsed extinctions of early complex life Journal Article uri icon

DCO ID 11121/5104-6916-1028-9798-CC

is Contribution to the DCO

  • YES

year of publication

  • 2019


  • Rocks of Ediacaran age (~635–541 Ma) contain the oldest fossils of large, complex organisms and their behaviors. These fossils document developmental and ecological innovations, and suggest that extinctions helped to shape the trajectory of early animal evolution. Conventional methods divide Ediacaran macrofossil localities into taxonomically distinct clusters, which may represent evolutionary, environmental, or preservational variation. Here, we investigate these possibilities with network analysis of body and trace fossil occurrences. By partitioning multipartite networks of taxa, paleoenvironments, and geologic formations into community units, we distinguish between biostratigraphic zones and paleoenvironmentally restricted biotopes, and provide empirically robust and statistically significant evidence for a global, cosmopolitan assemblage unique to terminal Ediacaran strata. The assemblage is taxonomically depauperate but includes fossils of recognizable eumetazoans, which lived between two episodes of biotic turnover. These turnover events were the first major extinctions of complex life and paved the way for the Cambrian radiation of animals.

publication date

  • February 22, 2019


  • 10


  • 911