Prokaryotic and eukaryotic microfossils from a Proterozoic/Phanerozoic transition in China

Abstract

Cherts of the Doushantuo Formation in the Yangtze Gorges, South China, contain a superbly preserved heterogeneous assemblage of bacteria, cyanobacteria, planktonic algae, submillimetre-sized burrows and problematica. The microbiota has a bearing on defining the Precambrian–Cambrian boundary. Baltisphaeridium and associated spinose microfossils in the chert suggest an early Cambrian age whereas other acritarchs, vendotaenids and pretrilobite small shelly fossils from the conformably overlying the Dengying Formation, indicate a late Proterozoic age for the Doushantuo. This mixed benthic–planktonic assemblage preserved in silicified, laminated, microbial mat-like fabrics, provides a unique sample of diverse microbiotic elements existing at the dawn of the Phanerozoic and records the earliest evidence of meiofauna.

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Awramik, S., McMenamin, D., Chongyu, Y. et al. Prokaryotic and eukaryotic microfossils from a Proterozoic/Phanerozoic transition in China. Nature 315, 655–658 (1985). https://doi.org/10.1038/315655a0

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