Skip to main content

A new modular palaeopascichnid fossil Curviacus ediacaranus new genus and species from the Ediacaran Dengying Formation in the Yangtze Gorges area of South China


Non-biomineralizing Ediacaran macrofossils are rare in carbonate facies, but they offer valuable information about their three-dimensional internal anatomy and can broaden our view about their taphonomy and palaeoecology. In this study, we report a new Ediacaran fossil, Curviacus ediacaranus new genus and species, from bituminous limestone of the Shibantan Member of the Dengying Formation in the Yangtze Gorges area of South China. Curviacus is reconstructed as a benthic modular organism consisting of serially arranged and crescent-shaped chambers. The chambers are confined by chamber walls that are replicated by calcispars, and are filled by micritic sediments. Such modular body construction is broadly similar to the co-occurring Yangtziramulus zhangii and other Ediacaran modular fossils, such as Palaeopascichnus. The preservation style of Curviacus is similar to Yangtziramulus, although the phylogenetic affinities of both genera remain unresolved. The new fossil adds to the diversity of Ediacaran modular organisms.

Corresponding author
Author for correspondence:
Hide All
An Z., Jiang G., Tong J., Tian L., Ye Q., Song H. & Song H. 2015. Stratigraphic position of the Ediacaran Miaohe biota and its constrains on the age of the upper Doushantuo δ13C anomaly in the Yangtze Gorges area, South China. Precambrian Research 253, 243–53.
Antcliffe J. B., Gooday A. J. & Brasier M. 2011. Testing the protozoan hypothesis for Ediacaran fossils: a developmental analysis of Palaeopascichnus . Palaeontology 54, 1157–75.
Billings E. 1872. Fossils in Huronian rocks. Canadian Naturalist and Quarterly Journal of Science 6, 478.
Cai Y. & Hua H. 2011. Discussion of ‘First finds of problematic Ediacaran fossil Gaojiashania in Siberia and its origin’. Geological Magazine 148, 329–33.
Cai Y., Hua H., Xiao S., Schiffbauer J. D. & Li P. 2010. Biostratinomy of the late Ediacaran pyritized Gaojiashan Lagerstätte from southern Shaanxi, South China: importance of event deposits. Palaios 25, 487506.
Cai Y., Hua H. & Zhang X. 2013. Tube construction and life mode of the late Ediacaran tubular fossil Gaojiashania cyclus from the Gaojiashan Lagerstätte. Precambrian Research 224, 255–67.
Cai Y., Schiffbauer J. D., Hua H. & Xiao S. 2011. Morphology and paleoecology of the late Ediacaran tubular fossil Conotubus hemiannulatus from the Gaojiashan Lagerstätte of southern Shaanxi Province, South China. Precambrian Research 191, 4657.
Cai Y., Xiao S., Hua H. & Yuan X. 2015. New material of the biomineralizing tubular fossil Sinotubulites from the late Ediacaran Dengying Formation, South China. Precambrian Research 261, 1224.
Chen P. 1984. Discovery of Lower Cambrian small shelly fossils from Jijiapo, Yichang, west Hubei and its significance. Professional Papers of Stratigraphy and Palaeontology 13, 4966.
Chen Z., Zhou C., Meyer M., Xiang K., Schiffbauer J. D., Yuan X. & Xiao S. 2013. Trace fossil evidence for Ediacaran bilaterian animals with complex behaviors. Precambrian Research 224, 690701.
Chen Z., Zhou C., Xiao S., Wang W., Guan C., Hua H. & Yuan X. 2014. New Ediacara fossils preserved in marine limestone and their ecological implications. Scientific Reports 4, 4180, doi: 10.1038/srep04180.
Condon D., Zhu M., Bowring S., Wang W., Yang A. & Jin Y. 2005. U–Pb ages from the Neoproterozoic Doushantuo Formation, China. Science 308, 95–8.
Cope J. 1982. Precambrian fossils of the Carmarthen area, Dyfed. Nature in Wales 1, 11–6.
Crimes P. 1992. Changes in the trace fossil biota across the Proterozoic–Phanerozoic boundary. Journal of the Geological Society, London 149, 637–46.
Darroch S. A. F., Boag T. H., Racicot R. A., Tweedt S., Mason S. J., Erwin D. H. & Laflamme M. 2016. A mixed Ediacaran-metazoan assemblage from the Zaris Sub-basin, Namibia. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 459, 198208.
Ding Q., Xing Y. & Chen Y. 1985. Metazoa and trace fossils. In Biostratigraphy of the Yangtze Gorge Area, (1) Sinian (eds Zhao Z., Xing Y., Ma G. & Chen Y.), pp. 115–9. Beijing: Geological Publishing House.
Dong L., Song W., Xiao S., Yuan X., Chen Z. & Zhou C. 2012. Micro- and macrofossils from the Piyuancun Formation and their implications for the Ediacaran–Cambrian boundary in Southern Anhui. Journal of Stratigraphy 36, 600–10.
Dong L., Xiao S., Shen B. & Zhou C. 2008. Silicified Horodyskia and Palaeopascichnus from upper Ediacaran cherts in South China: tentative phylogenetic interpretation and implications for evolutionary stasis. Journal of the Geological Society, London 165, 367–78.
Dong L., Xiao S., Shen B., Zhou C., Li G. & Yao J. 2009. Basal Cambrian microfossils from the Yangtze Gorges area (South China) and the Aksu area (Tarim Block, northwestern China). Journal of Paleontology 83, 3044.
Droser M. L., Gehling J. G., Dzaugis M. E., Kennedy M. J., Rice D. & Allen M. F. 2014. A new Ediacaran fossil with a novel sediment displacive life habit. Journal of Paleontology 88, 145–51.
Fedonkin M. A. 1982. New generic name for the Precambrian coelenterates. Paleontologicheskiy Zhurnal 2, 137.
Fedonkin M. A. 1985. Paleoichnology of the Vendian Metazoa. In The Vendian System. Historical–Geological and Palaeontological Basis. 1: Palaeontology (eds Sokolov B. S. & Ivanovskiy A. B.), pp. 112–6. Moscow: Nauka (in Russian).
Fedonkin M. A. 1990. Systematic description of Vendian Metazoa. In The Vendian System, Vol. 1: Paleontology (eds Sokolov B. S. & Iwanowski A. B.), pp. 71120. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.
Fedonkin M. A. & Waggoner B. M. 1997. The late Precambrian fossil Kimberella is a mollusc-like bilaterian organism. Nature 388, 868–71.
Fedonkin M. A. & Yochelson E. L. 2002. Middle Proterozoic (1.5 Ga) Horodyskia moniliformis Yochelson and Fedonkin, the oldest known tissue-grade colonial eukaryote. Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology 94, 129.
Ford T. D. 1958. Pre-Cambrian fossils from Charnwood Forest. Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society 31, 211–7.
Gehling J. G. 1999. Microbial mats in terminal Proterozoic siliciclastics: Ediacaran death masks. Palaios 14, 4057.
Gehling J. G., Narbonne G. M. & Anderson M. M. 2000. The first named Ediacaran body fossil, Aspidella terranovica . Palaeontology 43, 427–56.
Gehling J. G. & Rigby J. K. 1996. Long expected sponges from the Neoproterozoic Ediacara fauna of South Australia. Journal of Paleontology 70, 185–95.
Glaessner M. F. 1984. The Dawn of Animal Life: A Biohistorical Study. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Gnilovskaya M. B. 1971. The oldest Vendian water plants on the Russian platform (Upper Proterozoic). Paleontologicheskiy Zhurnal 3, 101–7 (in Russian).
Gooday A. J. 1991. Xenophyophores (Protista, Rhizopoda) in box-core samples from the abyssal northeast Atlantic Ocean (BIOTRANS area): their taxonomy, morphology, and ecology. Journal of Foraminiferal Research 21, 197211.
Grazhdankin D. 2014. Patterns of evolution of the Ediacaran soft-bodied biota. Journal of Paleontology 88, 269–83.
Grazhdankin D. V., Balthasar U., Nagovitsin K. E. & Kochnev B. B. 2008. Carbonate-hosted Avalon-type fossils in Arctic Siberia. Geology 36, 803–6.
Grazhdankin D. & Gerdes G. 2007. Ediacaran microbial colonies. Lethaia 40, 201–10.
Grazhdankin D., Maslov A., Mustill T. M. R. & Krupenin M. T. 2005. The White Sea Ediacaran-type biota in the Central Urals. Doklady Adademii Nauk 401, 784–8 (in Russian).
Grey K. & Williams I. R. 1990. Problematic bedding-plane markings from the Middle Proterozoic Manganese Subgroup, Bangemall Basin, Western Australia. Precambrian Research 46, 307–28.
Grey K., Yochelson E. L., Fedonkin M. A. & Martin D. M. 2010. Horodyskia williamsii new species, a Mesoproterozoic macrofossil from Western Australia. Precambrian Research 180, 117.
Guo J., Li Y. & Li G. 2014. Small shelly fossils from the early Cambrian Yanjiahe Formation, Yichang, Hubei, China. Gondwana Research 25, 9991007.
Gürich G. 1929. Die altesten Fossilien Sudafrikas. Zeitschrift für Praktische Geologie 37, 85–6.
Gürich G. 1933. Die Kuibis-Fossilien der Nama-Formation von Südwestafrika. Paläontologische Zeitschrift 15, 137–54.
Haines P. W. 2000. Problematic fossils in the late Neoproterozoic Wonoka Formation, South Australia. Precambrian Research 100, 97108.
Högström A. E. S., Jensen S., Palacios T. & Ebbestad J. O. R. 2013. New information on the Ediacaran–Cambrian transition in the Vestertana Group, Finnmark, northern Norway, from trace fossils and organic-walled microfossils. Norwegian Journal of Geology 93, 95106.
Hua H., Chen Z. & Zhang L. 2004. Shaanxilithes from lower Taozichong Formation, Guizhou Province and its geological and paleobiological significance. Journal of Stratigraphy 28, 265–9.
Hua H., Zhang L., Zhang Z. & Wang J. 2000. New fossil evidence from latest Neoproterozoic Gaojiashan biota, south Shaanxi. Acta Palaeontologica Sinica 39, 381–90.
Ivantsov A. Yu. 2013. New data on late Vendian problematic fossils from the genus Harlaniella . Stratigraphy and Geological Correlation 21, 592600.
Jensen S. 2003. The Proterozoic and Earliest Cambrian trace fossil record: patterns, problems and perspectives. Integrative and Comparative Biology 43, 219–28.
Jiang G., Shi X., Zhang S., Wang Y. & Xiao S. 2011. Stratigraphy and paleogeography of the Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation (ca. 635–551 Ma) in South China. Gondwana Research 19, 831–49.
Klein A. D. & Paschke W. M. 2004. Filamentous fungi: the indeterminate lifestyle and microbial ecology. Microbial Ecology 47, 224–35.
Laflamme M., Darroch S. A. F., Tweedt S. M., Peterson K. J. & Erwin D. H. 2013. The end of the Ediacara biota: extinction, biotic replacement, or Cheshire Cat? Gondwana Research 23, 558–73.
Laflamme M. & Narbonne G. M. 2008. Ediacaran fronds. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 258, 162–79.
Lan Z. & Chen Z. 2012. Possible animal body fossils from the Late Neoproterozoic interglacial successions in the Kimberley region, northwestern Australia. Gondwana Research 21, 293301.
Lin S., Zhang Y., Zhang L., Tao X. & Wang M. 1986. Body and trace fossils of metazoa and algal macrofossils from the upper Sinian Gaojiashan Formation in southern Shaanxi. Geology of Shaanxi 4, 917.
Liu A. G. 2016. Framboidal pyrite shroud confirms the ‘death mask’ model for moldic preservation of Ediacaran soft-bodied organisms. Palaios 31, 259–74.
Mángano M. G. & Buatois L. A. 2014. Decoupling of body-plan diversification and ecological structuring during the Ediacaran–Cambrian transition: evolutionary and geobiological feedbacks. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0038.
Meyer M., Schiffbauer J. D., Xiao S., Cai Y. & Hua H. 2012. Taphonomy of the upper Ediacaran enigmatic ribbon-like fossil Shaanxilithes . Palaios 27, 354–72.
Meyer M., Xiao S., Gill B. C., Schiffbauer J. D., Chen Z., Zhou C. & Yuan X. 2014. Interactions between Ediacaran animals and microbial mats: insights from Lamonte trevallis, a new trace fossil from the Dengying Formation of South China. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 396, 6274.
Narbonne G. M. 2004. Modular construction of early Ediacaran complex life forms. Science 305, 1141–4.
Narbonne G. M. 2005. The Ediacara Biota: Neoproterozoic origin of animals and their ecosystems. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 33, 421–42.
Narbonne G. M. & Hofmann H. J. 1987. Ediacaran biota of the Wernecke Mountains, Yukon, Canada. Palaeontology 30, 647–76.
Narbonne G. M., Myrow P. M., Landing E. & Anderson M. M. 1987. A candidate stratotype for the Precambrian–Cambrian boundary, Fortune Head, Burin Peninsula, southeastern Newfoundland. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 24, 1277–93.
Palij V. M. 1976. Remains of non-skeletal fauna and trace fossils from upper Precambrian and Lower Cambrian deposits of Podolia. In Paleontology and Stratigraphy of the Upper Precambrian and Lower Paleozoic of the South-West part of the East European Platform (ed. Ryabenko V. A.), pp. 6377. Kiev: Naukova Dumka (in Russian).
Parcha S. K. & Pandey S. 2011. Ichnofossils and their significance in the Cambrian successions of the Parahio Valley in the Spiti Basin, Tethys Himalaya, India. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 42, 1097–116.
Pawlowski J., Holzmann M., Berney C., Fahrni J., Gooday A. J., Cedhagen T., Habura A. & Bowser S. S. 2003a. The evolution of early Foraminifera. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 100, 11494–8.
Pawlowski J., Holzmann M., Fahrni J. & Richardson S. L. 2003b. Small subunit ribosomal DNA suggests that the xenophyophorean Syringammina corbicula is a foraminiferan. Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology 50, 483–7.
Retallack G. J. 1994. Were the Ediacaran fossils lichens? Paleobiology 20, 523–44.
Schmitz M. D. 2012. Appendix 2—Radiometric ages used in GTS2012. In The Geologic Time Scale 2012 (eds Gradstein F., Ogg J., Schmitz M. D. & Ogg G.), pp. 1045–82. Boston: Elsevier.
Seilacher A. 1960. Lebensspuren als Leitfossilien. Geologische Rundschau 49, 4150.
Seilacher A. 1989. Vendozoa: organismic construction in the Precambrian biosphere. Lethaia 22, 229–39.
Seilacher A. 2007a. The nature of vendobionts. In The Rise and Fall of the Ediacaran Biota (eds Vickers-Rich P. & Komarower P.), pp. 387–97. Geological Society of London, Special Publication no. 286.
Seilacher A. 2007b. Trace Fossil Analysis. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.
Seilacher A., Grazhdankin D. & Legouta A. 2003. Ediacaran biota: the dawn of animal life in the shadow of giant protists. Paleontological Research 7, 4354.
Shang X., Liu P., Yang B., Chen S. & Wang C. 2016. Ecology and phylogenetic affinity of the early Cambrian tubular microfossil Megathrix longus . Palaeontology 59, 1328.
Shen B., Dong L., Xiao S. & Kowalewski M. 2008. The Avalon explosion: expansion and saturation of Ediacara morphospace. Science 319, 81–4.
Shen B., Xiao S., Dong L., Zhou C. & Liu J. 2007. Problematic macrofossils from Ediacaran successions in the North China and Chaidam blocks: implications for their evolutionary root and biostratigraphic significance. Journal of Paleontology 81, 1396–411.
Shen B., Xiao S., Zhou C. & Yuan X. 2009. Yangtziramulus zhangi new genus and species, a carbonate-hosted macrofossil from the Ediacaran Dengying Formation in the Yangtze Gorges area, South China. Journal of Paleontology 83, 575–87.
Sokolov B. S. 1972. The Vendian Period in the Earth history. In International Geological Congress, 34th Session, Reports of Soviet Geologists, 7: Palaeontology, pp. 114–24. Moscow: Nauka (in Russian).
Sokolov B. S. 1976. Organic world of the Earth on the way to the Phanerozoic differentiation. Vestnik Akademii nauk SSSR 1, 126–43 (in Russian).
Sokolov B. S. 1990. The Vendian System: historical, geological and paleontological substantiation. In The Vendian System, Volume 2: Regional Geology (eds Sokolov B. S. & Fedonkin M. A.), pp. 226–42. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.
Sokolov B. S. & Iwanowski A. B. 1990. The Vendian System, Volume 1: Paleontology. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.
Sperling E. A. & Vinther J. 2010. A placozoan affinity for Dickinsonia and the evolution of late Proterozoic metazoan feeding modes. Evolution & Development 12, 201–9.
Sun W. 1986. Late Precambrian pennatulids (sea pens) from the eastern Yangtze Gorge, China: Paracharnia gen. nov. Precambrian Research 31, 361–75.
Tarhan L. G., Hughes N. C., Myrow P. M., Bhargava O. N., Ahluwalia A. D. & Kudryavtsev A. B. 2014. Precambrian–Cambrian boundary interval occurrence and form of the enigmatic tubular body fossil Shaanxilithes ningqiangensis from the Lesser Himalaya of India. Palaeontology 57, 283–98.
Tendal O. S. 1972. A monograph of the Xenophyophoria (Rhizopodea, Protozoa). Galathea Report 12, 799.
Urbanek A. & Rozanov A. Y. (eds) 1983. Upper Precambrian and Cambrian Palaeontology of the East-European Platform. Warszawa: Publishing House Wydawnictwa Geologiczne.
Waggoner B. 2003. The Ediacaran biotas in space and time. Integrative and Comparative Biology 43, 104–13.
Wan B., Xiao S., Yuan X., Chen Z., Pang K., Tang Q., Guan C. & Maisano J. A. 2014. Orbisiana linearis from the early Ediacaran Lantian Formation of South China and its taphonomic and ecological implications. Precambrian Research 255, 266–75.
Xiao S., Droser M., Gehling J. G., Hughes I. V., Wan B., Chen Z. & Yuan X. 2013. Affirming life aquatic for the Ediacara biota in China and Australia. Geology 41, 1095–8.
Xiao S. & Laflamme M. 2009. On the eve of animal radiation: phylogeny, ecology and evolution of the Ediacara biota. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 24, 3140.
Xiao S., Narbonne G. M., Zhou C., Laflamme M., Grazhdankin D. V., Moczydlowska-Vidal M. & Cui H. 2016. Towards an Ediacaran time scale: problems, protocols, and prospects. Episodes 39, 540–55.
Xiao S., Shen B., Zhou C., Xie G. & Yuan X. 2005. A uniquely preserved Ediacaran fossil with direct evidence for a quilted bodyplan. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 102, 10227–32.
Xing Y., Ding Q., Luo H., He T. & Wang Y. 1984. The Sinian-Cambrian boundary of China. Bulletin of the Institute of Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences 10, 1262.
Xing Y. & Yue Z. 1984. Southwestern Shaanxi. In The Sinian–Cambrian Boundary of China (eds Xing Y., Ding Q., Luo H., He T. & Wang Y.), pp. 111–26. Beijing: Geological Publishing House.
Yao J., Xiao S., Yin L., Li G. & Yuan X. 2005. Basal Cambrian microfossils from the Yurtus and Xishanblaq formations (Tarim, north-west China): systematic revision and biostratigraphic correlation of Micrhystridium-like acritarchs from China. Palaeontology 48, 687708.
Yin L. 1987. Microbiotas of latest Precambrian sequences in China. In Stratigraphy and Palaeontology of Systemic Boundaries in China, Precambrian–Cambrian Boundary 1, 415–94.
Yochelson E. L. & Fedonkin M. A. 2000. A new tissue-grade organism 1.5 billion years old from Montana. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 113, 843–7.
Zhao Z., Xing Y., Ding Q., Liu G., Zhao Y., Zhang S., Meng X., Yin C., Ning B. & Han P. 1988. The Sinian System of Hubei. Wuhan: China University of Geosciences Press.
Zhou C., Xiao S., Wang W., Guan C., Ouyang Q. & Chen Z. 2017. The stratigraphic complexity of the middle Ediacaran carbon isotopic record in the Yangtze Gorges area, South China, and its implications for the age and chemostratigraphic significance of the Shuram excursion. Precambrian Research 288, 2338.
Zhu M., Gehling J. G., Xiao S., Zhao Y.-L. & Droser M. 2008. Eight-armed Ediacara fossil preserved in contrasting taphonomic windows from China and Australia. Geology 36, 867–70.
Zhuravlev A. Yu, Gámez Vintaned J. A. & Ivantsov A. Y. 2009. First finds of problematic Ediacaran fossil Gaojiashania in Siberia and its origin. Geological Magazine 146, 775–80.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Geological Magazine
  • ISSN: 0016-7568
  • EISSN: 1469-5081
  • URL: /core/journals/geological-magazine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 7
Total number of PDF views: 52 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 258 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 27th April 2017 - 22nd November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.