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Chronology of early Cambrian biomineralization


Data on the first appearances of major animal groups with mineralized skeletons on the Siberian Platform and worldwide are revised and summarized herein with references to an improved carbon isotope stratigraphy and radiometric dating in order to reconstruct the Cambrian radiation (popularly known as the ‘Cambrian explosion’) with a higher precision and provide a basis for the definition of Cambrian Stages 2 to 4. The Lophotrochozoa and, probably, Chaetognatha were first among protostomians to achieve biomineralization during the Terreneuvian Epoch, mainly the Fortunian Age. Fast evolutionary radiation within the Lophotrochozoa was followed by radiation of the sclerotized and biomineralized Ecdysozoa during Stage 3. The first mineralized skeletons of the Deuterostomia, represented by echinoderms, appeared in the middle of Cambrian Stage 3. The fossil record of sponges and cnidarians suggests that they acquired biomineralized skeletons in the late Neoproterozoic, but diversification of both definite sponges and cnidarians was in parallel to that of bilaterians. The distribution of calcium carbonate skeletal mineralogies from the upper Ediacaran to lower Cambrian reflects fluctuations in the global ocean chemistry and shows that the Cambrian radiation occurred mainly during a time of aragonite and high-magnesium calcite seas.

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