The earliest fossil record of communities of macroscopic, complex, multicellular organisms on Earth are a group of fossils known as the Ediacara biota. These fossils have been found at many sites around the world, and provide important clues about the evolution of life on Earth. Some of the most ecologically and taxonomically diverse fossils can be found in the Rawnsley Quartzite of South Australia. A team of scientists has now completed a fifteen year, systematic excavation of Ediacara fossils at this site, uncovering over 400 square meters of Ediacaran seafloor. Their work has been used to make detailed sedimentary, paleoecological, and taphonomic assessments of the Ediacara communities.

The paper, “Microbial mat sandwiches and other anactualistic sedimentary features of the Ediacara member (Rawnsley Quartzite, South Australia): Implications for interpretation of the Ediacaran sedimentary record,” was published in the journal PALAIOS. The work was supported by NASA Astrobiology through the Exobiology & Evolutionary Biology Program.