The proterozoic and earliest cambrian trace fossil record; patterns, problems and perspectives

Integr Comp Biol. 2003 Feb;43(1):219-28. doi: 10.1093/icb/43.1.219.

Abstract

The increase in trace fossil diversity across the Neoproterozoic-Cambrian boundary often is presented in terms of tabulations of ichnogenera. However, a clearer picture of the increase in diversity and complexity can be reached by combining trace fossils into broad groups defined both on morphology and interpretation. This also focuses attention on looking for similarites between Neoproterozoic and Cambrian trace fossils. Siliciclastic sediments of the Neoproterozoic preserve elongate tubular organisms and structures of probable algal origin, many of which are very similar to trace fossils. Such enigmatic structures include Palaeopascichnus and Yelovichnus, previously thought to be trace fossils in the form of tight meanders.A preliminary two or tripartite terminal Neoproterozoic trace fossil zonation can be be recognized. Possibly the earliest trace fossils are short unbranched forms, probably younger than about 560 Ma. Typical Neoproterozoic trace fossils are unbranched and essentially horizontal forms found associated with diverse assemblages of Ediacaran organisms. In sections younger than about 550 Ma a modest increase in trace fossil diversity occurs, including the appearance of rare three-dimensional burrow systems (treptichnids), and traces with a three-lobed lower surfaces.