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Thectardis avalonensis: A new Ediacaran fossil from the Mistaken Point biota, Newfoundland

  • Matthew E. Clapham (a1), Guy M. Narbonne (a1), James G. Gehling (a1), Carolyn Greentree (a2) and Michael M. Anderson (a3)...

Abstract

The Neoproterozoic Ediacara biota at Mistaken Point contains the oldest diverse Ediacaran assemblages and is one of the few known deepwater localities, yet the biota is dominated by endemic forms, nearly all of which remain undescribed. Thectardis avalonensis new genus and species, one of these endemic forms, is a cm-scale triangular fossil with a raised rim and a featureless-to-faintly-segmented central depression. More than 200 specimens occur on two bedding plane surfaces: the 565 Ma E surface and the 575 Ma Pigeon Cove surface, nearly 2,000 m lower in the succession. Morphological and taphonomic data suggest that the organism was an elongate cone that may have lived as a suspension-feeding “mat sticker” with its pointed base inserted into the microbially bound sediment. If true, Thectardis n. gen. would be the tallest-known mat sticker, reaching a maximum height of over 15 cm. Specimens display little ontogenetic change in length:width ratio, suggesting that Thectardis grew uniformly by incremental addition of material to its distal end. Morphological differences between specimens at two well-separated stratigraphic levels may have resulted from evolutionary or ecophenotypic variation.

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