Biogeochemical Evidence for Dinoflagellate Ancestors in the Early Cambrian

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Science  21 Aug 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5380, pp. 1168-1170
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5380.1168

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Dinoflagellates are single-celled organisms that reflect the ecological conditions in modern oceans and lakes. Ultrastructural data and molecular phylogeny suggest that they originated in the Neoproterozoic, yet dinoflagellate ancestors are classified only to the Middle Triassic (∼240 million years ago). Examination of dinoflagellate-specific biological markers (dinosteranes and 4α-methyl-24-ethylcholestane) in concentrated microfossils with known morphology identified ancient dinoflagellate ancestors from the Early Cambrian (∼520 million years ago).

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