The youngest Ediacaran fossils from southern Africa.J Paleontol. 1997 Nov; 71(6):953-67.JP
Discovery of fossils of the Ediacara biota near the top of the Spitzkopf Member at farm Swanpunt extends the known range of these remains in Namibia more than 600 m to near the sub-Cambrian unconformity. The fossiliferous beds occur approximately 100 m above a volcanic ash dated at 543 +/- 1 Ma, and thus may be the youngest Proterozoic Ediacara-type fossils reported anywhere in the world. Fossils are preserved within and on the tops of dm-thick beds of storm-deposited sandstone at two stratigraphic levels; the environment is interpreted as open marine, generally calm but with episodic disruptions by storm waves, and probably within the euphotic zone. The presence of Pteridinium carolinaense (St. Jean), which is also known from the classic sections in Ediacara and the White Sea among others, reinforces evidence from geochronology and chemostratigraphy that the Swartpunt section is terminal Neoproterozoic in age. The new genus and species Swartpuntia germsi is a large, multifoliate frond that exhibits at least three quilted petaloids. Macroscopically, Swartpuntia resembles Pteridinium and Ediacara-type fronds such as Charniodiscus traditionally interpreted as Cnidaria, whereas microscopically it exhibits segmentation that is remarkably similar to that of the putative worm Dickinsonia. Combination of diagnostic characters of these supposedly disparate groups in a single species suggests that many species of quilted Ediacaran organisms were more similar to each other than they were to any modern groups, and provides support for the concept of the "Vendobionta" as a late Neoproterozoic group of mainly multifoliate organisms with a distinctive quilted segmentation.