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13/03/18 Ross Anderson (All Souls College, University of Oxford)

The rise of eukaryotes: Environmental controls on the early fossil record (à la Doua)
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The rise of eukaryotes: Environmental controls on the early fossil record

The Neoproterozoic–earliest Palaeozoic emergence and diversification of complex eukaryotic life is one of the most fundamental transitions in the history of life on Earth. Fossils provide the only direct way to test hypotheses for the sequence of evolutionary events, yet the early fossil record is compromised. Before organisms with biomineralised parts like shells or skeletons were common, we are reliant on environmental circumstances in which decay-prone organisms can be preserved. The rarity of these circumstances means fossils are similarly rare; and our limited understanding of the preservation processes mean we unable to know whether the ecological and temporal ranges of fossil organisms are real or artefacts of changing preservation potential. Here I investigate the role clay minerals, both in the surrounding sediment and when attached to organic remains, in Burgess Shale-type (BST) fossilisation, one of the most common pathways for the preservation of decay-prone organisms. An improved understanding of BST fossilization will enable vital new fossils to be found and enhance our palaeobiological understanding of these important assemblages.

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Département ENS
  • Directeur :
    Stéphane Labrosse
  • Secrétaire :
    Emmanuelle Lousson
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