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Acritarchs and microfossils from the Mesoproterozoic Bangemall Group, northwestern Australia

  • Roger Buick (a1) and Andrew H. Knoll (a2)

Abstract

Three microfossil assemblages occur in the Mesoproterozoic Bangemall Group (1625-1000 Ma) of northwestern Australia, each occupying a different environmental and taphonomic setting. In peritidal environments, benthic prokaryotic filaments and spheroids of matting habit and small size were permineralized by early diagenetic silicification of stromatolitic carbonates. In shallow subtidal environments, benthic filaments of large size and nonmatting habit and planktonic sphaeromorph acritarchs with thin walls and moderate dimensions were compressed in mildly kerogenous shale. In deeper subtidal environments, planktonic megasphaeromorph acritarchs with thick walls were initially entombed in concretionary nodules in highly kerogenous shale and then permineralized by silica during later diagenesis. Taxonomic diversity and numerical abundance evidently decrease offshore. The three assemblages have typical Mesoproterozoic aspects: peritidal benthic habitats were dominated by Siphonophycus-Sphaerophycus-Eosynechococcus-Myxococcoides-Palaeopleurocapsa, shallow subtidal settings were occupied by Siphonophycus-Leiosphaeridia-Pterospermopsimorpha-Satka, and offshore plankton consisted solely of very large chuarid acritarchs. Because of its taphonomic restriction to mid-intertidal stromatolites, the peritidal assemblage can be equated in microenvironment with a similar assemblage in the Neoproterozoic Draken Conglomerate, suggesting that ecological stasis at the community level can last for intervals up to 900 million years. In the deeper subtidal assemblage, the common chuarid has an unusual mode of preservation, in three dimensions in early diagenetic concretions, revealing that it possesses a thick multilamellate wall. Because of this distinctive ultrastructure, the new genus Crassicorium is erected for these fossils, which are among the oldest indubitable eukaryotes. Very large (34-55 μm in diameter) filaments from shallow subtidal habitats are assigned to the emended species Siphonophycus punctatum.

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Acritarchs and microfossils from the Mesoproterozoic Bangemall Group, northwestern Australia

  • Roger Buick (a1) and Andrew H. Knoll (a2)

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