A cosmopolitan late Ediacaran biotic assemblage: new fossils from Nevada and Namibia support a global biostratigraphic link.Proc Biol Sci. 2017 Jul 12; 284(1858)PB
Owing to the lack of temporally well-constrained Ediacaran fossil localities containing overlapping biotic assemblages, it has remained uncertain if the latest Ediacaran (ca 550-541 Ma) assemblages reflect systematic biological turnover or environmental, taphonomic or biogeographic biases. Here, we report new latest Ediacaran fossil discoveries from the lower member of the Wood Canyon Formation in Nye County, Nevada, including the first figured reports of erniettomorphs, Gaojiashania, Conotubus and other problematic fossils. The fossils are spectacularly preserved in three taphonomic windows and occur in greater than 11 stratigraphic horizons, all of which are below the first appearance of Treptichnus pedum and the nadir of a large negative δ13C excursion that is a chemostratigraphic marker of the Ediacaran-Cambrian boundary. The co-occurrence of morphologically diverse tubular fossils and erniettomorphs in Nevada provides a biostratigraphic link among latest Ediacaran fossil localities globally. Integrated with a new report of Gaojiashania from Namibia, previous fossil reports and existing age constraints, these finds demonstrate a distinctive late Ediacaran fossil assemblage comprising at least two groups of macroscopic organisms with dissimilar body plans that ecologically and temporally overlapped for at least 6 Myr at the close of the Ediacaran Period. This cosmopolitan biotic assemblage disappeared from the fossil record at the end of the Ediacaran Period, prior to the Cambrian radiation.