New Ediacaran biota from the oldest Nama Group, Namibia (Tsaus Mountains), and re-definition of the Nama Assemblage

Rachel Wood, Fred Bowyer, Ruaridh Alexander, Mariana Yilales Agelvis, C. I. Uahengo, K. Kaputuaza, J. Ndeunyema, Andrew Curtis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The Nama Group, Namibia (≥550.5 to <538 million years ago, Ma), preserves one of the most diverse metazoan fossil records of the terminal Ediacaran Period. We report numerous features that may be biological in origin from the shallow marine, siliciclastic, lowermost Mara Member (older than ca. 550.5 Ma) from the Tsaus Mountains. These include forms that potentially represent body fossils, Beltanelliformis and an indeterminate juvenile uniterminal rangeomorph or arboreomorph frond, plug trace fossils, Bergaueria, as well as sedimentary surface textures, which are possibly microbially induced. These are the oldest documented macrofossils in the Nama Group. They represent taxa that persist from the Avalon or White Sea assemblages prior to the later appearance of new biota, including calcified metazoans, calcified and soft-bodied tubular taxa including all cloudinids, as well as more complex trace fossils.

Using a new age model that allows more accurate stratigraphic placement of major Ediacaran macrofossil morphogroups and taxa, we propose a re-definition of the Nama Assemblage following the practice for Phanerozoic evolutionary faunas to include only new morphogroups of soft-bodied tubular, calcified taxa and complex trace fossils, defined by first appearance of Cloudina, which postdates deposition of the Kanies and lower Mara members and first appears ca. 550 Ma and persists until at least 539 Ma.

Finally, the Tsaus Mountain environment is pristine, unspoilt by geologists and naturalists. Following World Heritage Convention, we suggest a pledge of non-destructive excavation that all future scientists should be able to make in publications of work that involve research in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalGeological Magazine
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2023


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