Modular Construction of Early Ediacaran Complex Life Forms

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Science  20 Aug 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5687, pp. 1141-1144
DOI: 10.1126/science.1099727

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Newly discovered, exceptionally preserved, soft-bodied fossils near Spaniard's Bay in eastern Newfoundland exhibit features not previously described from Ediacaran (terminal Neoproterozoic) fossils. All of the Spaniard's Bay taxa were composed of similar architectural elements—centimeter-scale frondlets exhibiting three orders of fracticality in branching. Frondlets were combined as modules atop semi-rigid organic skeletons to form a wide array of larger constructions, including frondose and plumose structures. This architecture and construction define the “rangeomorphs,” a biological clade that dominated the Mistaken Point assemblage (575 to 560 million years ago) but does not appear to be ancestral to any Phanerozoic or modern organisms.

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