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Multiscale approach reveals that Cloudina aggregates are detritus and not in situ reef constructions

Author(s): Mehra, Akshay K; Maloof, Adam C

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Abstract: The earliest metazoans capable of biomineralization appeared during the late Ediacaran Period (635–541 Ma) in strata associated with shallow water microbial reefs. It has been suggested that some Ediacaran microbial reefs were dominated (and possibly built) by an abundant and globally distributed tubular organism known as Cloudina. If true, this interpretation implies that metazoan framework reef building—a complex behavior that is responsible for some of the largest bioconstructions and most diverse environments in modern oceans—emerged much earlier than previously thought. Here, we present 3D reconstructions of Cloudina populations, produced using an automated serial grinding and imaging system coupled with a recently developed neural network image classifier. Our reconstructions show that Cloudina aggregates are composed of transported remains while detailed field observations demonstrate that the studied reef outcrops contain only detrital Cloudina buildups, suggesting that Cloudina played a minor role in Ediacaran reef systems. These techniques have wide applicability to problems that require 3D reconstructions where physical separation is impossible and a lack of density contrast precludes tomographic imaging techniques.
Publication Date: 13-Mar-2018
Citation: Mehra, Akshay, and Adam Maloof. "Multiscale approach reveals that Cloudina aggregates are detritus and not in situ reef constructions." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115, no. 11 (2018): E2519-E2527. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1719911115
DOI: doi:10.1073/pnas.1719911115
ISSN: 0027-8424
EISSN: 1091-6490
Pages: E2519 - E2527
Language: eng
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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