Insights into the Skeletonization, Lifestyle, and Affinity of the Unusual Ediacaran Fossil Corumbella
Forancelli Pacheco et al
The Ediacaran fossil Corumbella is important because it is hypothesized to be a scyphozoan cnidarian, and thus might be one of the rare examples of bona fide Neoproterozoic animals. Unfortunately, its mode of life, style of skeletonization, and taxonomic affinity have been very controversial. Here, we use X-ray micro-CT, SEM, and taphonomic analysis to compare preservational modes of Corumbella, in order to better understand the symmetry, mode of construction, preservational style, and taxonomy of this group. Results suggest that articulated and disarticulated specimens of Corumbella from the Ediacaran of Brazil, Paraguay, and the United States, although sometimes preserved very differently, represent the same taxon—Corumbella werneri. Corumbellids had a thick but flexible theca and probably lived with their basalmost part anchored in the sediment, much like Conotubus. When considered together, these results suggest that Corumbella was one of the first animals to build a skeleton, employing a lamellar microfabric similar to conulariids.