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1 May 2018 An Ediacaran opportunist? Characteristics of a juvenile Dickinsonia costata population from Crisp Gorge, South Australia
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Abstract

Despite 70 years of study, Dickinsonia remains one of the Ediacara biota's most enigmatic taxa with both morphological characters and phylogenetic affinities still debated. A large population of relatively small Dickinsonia costata present on a semi-contiguous surface from the Crisp Gorge fossil locality in the Flinders Ranges (South Australia) provides an opportunity to investigate this taxon in its juvenile form. This population supports earlier findings that suggest D. costata's early growth was isometric, based on the relationship between measured variables of length and width. The number of body units increases with length, but at a decreasing rate. A correlation between a previously described physical feature, present as a shrinkage rim partially surrounding some specimens and a novel, raised lip in some specimens, suggests that both features may have been the result of a physical contraction in response to the burial process, rather than due to a gradual loss of mass during early diagenesis. A marked protuberance in 15% of the population is also noted in limited specimens within the South Australian Museum collections and appears to be present only in juvenile D. costata. Both the abundance and narrow size range of this population support the notion that Dickinsonia was a hardy opportunist, capable of rapid establishment and growth on relatively immature textured organic-mat substrates.

© 2018, The Paleontological Society. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Lily M. Reid, Diego C. García-Bellido, and James G. Gehling "An Ediacaran opportunist? Characteristics of a juvenile Dickinsonia costata population from Crisp Gorge, South Australia," Journal of Paleontology 92(3), 313-322, (1 May 2018). https://doi.org/10.1017/jpa.2017.142
Accepted: 1 November 2017; Published: 1 May 2018
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