Cryptic Disc Structures Resembling Ediacaran Discoidal Fossils from the Lower Silurian Hellefjord Schist, Arctic Norway

Christopher L Kirkland, Breandan MacGabhann, Brian Kirkland, Stephen Daly

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Abstract

The Hellefjord Schist, a volcaniclastic psammite-pelite formation in the Caledonides of Arctic Norway contains discoidal impressions and apparent tube casts that share morphological and taphonomic similarities to Neoproterozoic stem-holdfast forms. U-Pb zircon geochronology on the host metasediment indicates it was deposited between 437 ± 2 and 439 ± 3 Ma, but also indicates that an inferred basal conglomerate to this formation must be part of an older stratigraphic element, as it is cross-cut by a 546 ± 4 Ma pegmatite. These results confirm that the Hellefjord Schist is separated from underlying older Proterozoic rocks by a thrust. It has previously been argued that the Cambrian Substrate Revolution destroyed the ecological niches that the Neoproterozoic frond-holdfasts organisms occupied. However, the discovery of these fossils in Silurian rocks demonstrates that the environment and substrate must have been similar enough to Neoproterozoic settings that frond-holdfast bodyplans were still ecologically viable some hundred million years later.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS ONE
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2016

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