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Using ecology to unlock the secrets of early animal evolution

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The sudden appearance of animals in the fossil record, after billions of years of microbial life, is one of the most dramatic events in the history of life on Earth. These oldest known animals are found in the Ediacaran time period (630–541 Ma), just before the Cambrian radiation. Studying Ediacaran evolution is fraught with difficulties due to the unique anatomies of Ediacaran organisms. But we have one potential avenue of attack – the preservation of Ediacaran fossils is exceptional, with thousands of organisms preserved where they lived. To exploit that information we can use a suite of ecological methodologies, normally only used on extant communities.

This talk is part of the Department of Earth Sciences Seminars (downtown) series.

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