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Fossils, Dates and Tectonic Plates: Exploring the nexus between plate tectonics, global palaeogeography and the rise of animal life

The Cambrian Explosion coincides with the amalgamation of Gondwana… 

Project leaders are

Marissa Betts

(University of New England, Australia)

Sabin Zahirovic

(University of Sydney, Australia)

Plate tectonics has been linked either directly or indirectly to early animal evolution and Cambrian plate reconstructions are often based on limited proxies, and this has resulted in a variety of differing models. Through the lens of palaeobiogeography and plate tectonics, this project aims to study the conditions, drivers, and palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimatic setting of the Cambrian Explosion being a critical step forward, seamlessly linking two major geologic eras together and providing a new tectonic model with which to explore evolutionary dynamics during the rise of complex animal life.

Objectives: (1) Vetting of existing Ediacaran–Cambrian (635–485 Ma) tectonic models, refinement or development of a new global tectonic model for this time interval, and development of a data repository of Ediacaran–Cambrian fossil occurrences and (2) Application of this new model as a framework for testing a series of key questions about the relationship between plate tectonics and the Cambrian Explosion of life.

Group Members

Bethany Allen (ETH Zürich, SWITZERLAND), Mat Domeier (University of Oslo, Norway), Sarah Jacquet (University of Missouri, USA), Emily Joan Judd (Smithsonian, USA), Alex Liu (University of Cambridge, UK), Chloe Markussen Marcilly (University of Oslo, Norway), Luke Strotz (Northwest University, China), Tim Topper (SMNH, Sweden), Tom Wong Hearing (Leicester University, UK)