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Scratch Traces of Large Ediacara Bilaterian Animals

  • James G. Gehling (a1) (a2), Bruce N. Runnegar (a3) and Mary L. Droser (a4)

Ediacara fan-shaped sets of paired scratches Kimberichnus teruzzii from the Ediacara Member of the Rawnsley Quartzite, South Australia, and the White Sea region of Russia, represent the earliest known evidence in the fossil record of feeding traces associated with the responsible bilaterian organism. These feeding patterns exclude arthropod makers and point to the systematic feeding excavation of seafloor microbial mats by large bilaterians of molluscan grade. Since the scratch traces were made into microbial mats, animals could crawl over previous traces without disturbing them. The trace maker is identified as Kimberella quadrata, whose death masks co-occur with the mat excavation traces in both Russia and South Australia. The co-occurrence of animals and their systematic feeding traces in the record of the Ediacara biota supports previous trace fossil evidence that bilaterians existed globally before the Cambrian explosion of life in the ocean.

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