Trace fossils of sediment bulldozers are documented from terminal Ediacaran strata of the Nama Group in Namibia, where they occur in the Spitskop Member of the Urusis Formation (Schwarzrand Subgroup). They consist of unilobate to bilobate horizontal to subhorizontal trace fossils describing scribbles, circles and, more rarely, open spirals and meanders, and displaying an internal structure indicative of active fill. Their presence suggests that exploitation of the shallow infaunal ecospace by relatively large bilaterians was already well underway at the dawn of the Phanerozoic. Efficient burrowing suggests coelom development most likely linked to metazoan body-size increase. These trace fossils are the earliest clear representatives so far recorded of sediment bulldozing, an activity that may have had a negative impact on suspension-feeding and/or osmotroph communities, as well as on matgrounds, representing early examples of ecosystem engineering and trophic-group amensalism. The occurrence of sediment bulldozers may have promoted the establishment of gradients in horizontal and vertical distribution of organic material in connection with spatially heterogeneous environments on the sea floor at a critical time in Earth evolution.
Scientific Reports – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 14, 2018
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