PloS one | 26 Jun 2014
A El Albani, S Bengtson, DE Canfield, A Riboulleau, C Rollion Bard, R Macchiarelli, L Ngombi Pemba, E Hammarlund, A Meunier, I Moubiya Mouele, K Benzerara, S Bernard, P Boulvais, M Chaussidon, C Cesari, C Fontaine, E Chi-Fru, JM Garcia Ruiz, F Gauthier-Lafaye, A Mazurier, AC Pierson-Wickmann, O Rouxel, A Trentesaux, M Vecoli, GJ Versteegh, L White, M Whitehouse and A Bekker
The Paleoproterozoic Era witnessed crucial steps in the evolution of Earth’s surface environments following the first appreciable rise of free atmospheric oxygen concentrations ∼2.3 to 2.1 Ga ago, and concomitant shallow ocean oxygenation. While most sedimentary successions deposited during this time interval have experienced thermal overprinting from burial diagenesis and metamorphism, the ca. 2.1 Ga black shales of the Francevillian B Formation (FB2) cropping out in southeastern Gabon have not. The Francevillian Formation contains centimeter-sized structures interpreted as organized and spatially discrete populations of colonial organisms living in an oxygenated marine ecosystem. Here, new material from the FB2 black shales is presented and analyzed to further explore its biogenicity and taphonomy. Our extended record comprises variably sized, shaped, and structured pyritized macrofossils of lobate, elongated, and rod-shaped morphologies as well as abundant non-pyritized disk-shaped macrofossils and organic-walled acritarchs. Combined microtomography, geochemistry, and sedimentary analysis suggest a biota fossilized during early diagenesis. The emergence of this biota follows a rise in atmospheric oxygen, which is consistent with the idea that surface oxygenation allowed the evolution and ecological expansion of complex megascopic life.
* Data courtesy of Altmetric.com