Early Cambrian metazoans in fluvial environments, evidence of the non-marine Cambrian radiation

Martin J. Kennedy*, Mary L. Droser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Here we describe the oldest evidence of non-marine animals from the early Cambrian Wood Canyon Formation, California, evidence created by metazoans of a variety of sizes and behaviors. Millimeter-sized vertical trace fossils, including the U-shaped burrow Arenicolites and the vertical burrow Skolithos, as well as a centimeter-scale horizontal trace fossil, occur in conglomerate and gritty arkosic sandstone bed tops within fluvial channels. These fossils demonstrate that animals were dwelling in this habitat coincident with, or possibly predating, the fi rst trilobites, and extend the freshwater record of animals back at least 80 m.y. The development of a functioning terrestrial ecosystem was concurrent with the early Cambrian marine radiation and suggests that freshwater environments were populated early by metazoans and that ecological opportunity likely played a determining role in metazoan exploitation of non-marine habitats versus commonly assumed influences from physiological or nonbiological barriers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-586
Number of pages4
JournalGeology
Volume39
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes

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