Cloudinidae is an early metazoanfamily containing the genusCloudina, which lived during the Late Ediacaranperiod and became extinct at the base of the Cambrian. They formed millimeter-scale conical fossils consisting of calcareous cones nested within one another; the appearance of the organism itself remains unknown. The name Cloudina honors the 20th century geologist and paleontologistPreston Cloud. Cloudinids had a wide geographic range, reflected in the present distribution of localities in which their fossils are found, and are an abundant component of some deposits. They never appear in the same layers as soft-bodied Ediacaran biota, but the fact that some sequences contain Cloudinids and Ediacaran biota in alternating layers suggests that these groups had different environmental preferences. It has been suggested that Cloudinids lived embedded in microbial mats, growing new cones to avoid being buried by silt. However no specimens have been found embedded in mats, and their mode of life is still an unresolved question. Cloudinids are among the earliest and most abundant of the small shelly fossils with mineralizedskeletons, and therefore feature in the debate about why such skeletons first appeared in the Late Ediacaran. (Read more...)
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