Viewing the Ediacaran biota as a failed experiment is unhelpful

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Macroscopic organisms from the late Ediacaran period have often been described as failed experiments in the history of life. We argue that the field of Ediacaran palaeobiology should dispense with unhelpful historical classification schemes and embrace phylogenetic systematics if we are to establish the evolutionary relevance of these fossils.

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Fig. 1: Members of the Ediacaran macrobiota and Cambrian ‘weird wonders’.

D. Grazhdankin (a), M. Laflamme (d) and J. Vinther (e).

Fig. 2: How phylogenetic thinking affects our view of the Ediacaran macrobiota.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank D. Grazhdankin and P. Donoghue for constructive discussion.

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Correspondence to Frances S. Dunn.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Dunn, F.S., Liu, A.G. Viewing the Ediacaran biota as a failed experiment is unhelpful. Nat Ecol Evol 3, 512–514 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41559-019-0815-4

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