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Synchronous Aggregate Growth in an Abundant New Ediacaran Tubular Organism

Science  21 Mar 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5870, pp. 1660-1662
DOI: 10.1126/science.1152595

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Abstract

The most abundant taxon of the Neoproterozoic soft-bodied biota near Ediacara, South Australia, occurs as clusters of similarly sized individuals, which suggests synchronous aggregate growth by spatfall. Tubes of Funisia dorothea gen. et sp. nov. were anchored within the shallow, sandy sea bed and lived in dense, typically monospecific concentrations. Tubes were composed of modular, serially repeating elements. Individuals grew by adding serial elements to the tubular body and by branching of tubes. Their construction and close-packed association imply likely affinity within the Porifera or Cnidaria. These data suggest that several of the most successful marine invertebrate ecological strategies known today were in place in Earth's oldest known metazoan ecosystems before the advent of skeletonization and widespread predation.

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