A multicellular organism with embedded cell clusters from the Ediacaran Weng'an biota (Doushantuo Formation, South China)

John A. Cunningham*, Kelly Vargas, Federica Marone, Stefan Bengtson, Philip C J Donoghue

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
301 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Three-dimensional analyses of the early Ediacaran microfossils from the Weng’an Doushantuo biota have focused predominantly on embryo-like forms, and yet they have defied interpretation principally because of absence of evidence from other stages in their life cycle. It is therefore ironic that the life cycle and affinities of other Doushantuo fossils have been neglected. Here we describe a conical fossil that is preserved at a cellular level. The fossil contains distinct cellular clusters that we characterize and analyse in three dimensions. These clusters are often exposed at the specimen surface, and the fossil preserves many hemispherical craters that we interpret as positions where clusters have left the organism. The cellular clusters may be either reproductive propagules or exogenous organisms. In either case, the specimen shows that presumably non-animal organisms contain clusters that have a close resemblance to structures within some embryo-like fossils.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-316
Number of pages9
JournalEvolution and Development
Volume18
Issue number5-6
Early online date10 Nov 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

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