Phosphatized Multicellular Algae in the Neoproterozoic Doushantuo Formation, China, and the Early Evolution of Florideophyte Red Algae
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Pueschel, Curt M.
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CitationXiao, Shuhai H., Andrew H. Knoll, Xunlai L. Yuan, and Curt M. Pueschel. 2004. Phosphatized multicellular algae in the Neoproterozoic Doushantuo Formation, China, and the early evolution of florideophyte red algae. American Journal of Botany 91, no. 2: 214-227.
AbstractPhosphatic sediments of the Late Neoproterozoic (ca. 600 million years old [Myr]) Doushantuo Formation at Weng'an, South China, contain fossils of multicellular algae preserved in anatomical detail. As revealed by light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy, these fossils include both simple pseudoparenchymatous thalli with apical growth but no cortex-medulla differentiation and more complex thalli characterized by cortex-medulla differentiation and structures interpretable as carposporophytes, suggesting a multiphasic life cycle. Simple pseudoparenchymatous thalli, represented by Wengania, Gremiphyca, and Thallophycoides, are interpreted as stem group florideophytes. In contrast, complex pseudoparenchymatous thalli, such as Thallophyca and Paramecia, compare more closely to fossil and living corallinaleans than to other florideophyte orders, although they also differ in some important aspects (e.g., lack of biocalcification). These more complex thalli are interpreted as early stem group corallinaleans that diverged before Paleozoic stem groups such as Arenigiphyllum, Petrophyton, Graticula, and Archaeolithophyllum. This phylogenetic interpretation implies that (1) the phylogenetic divergence between the Florideophyceae and its sister group, the Bangiales, must have taken place before Doushantuo time-an inference supported by the occurrence of bangialean fossils in Mesoproterozoic rocks; (2) the initial diversification of the florideophytes occurred no later than the Doushantuo time; and (3) the corallinalean clade had a "soft" (uncalcified) evolutionary history in the Neoproterozoic before evolving biocalcification in the Paleozoic and undergoing crown group diversification in the Mesozoic.
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