A billion years ago (the Neoproterozoic age), complex single-celled organisms, the acritarchs, began to develop, grow, and thrive. Almost a billion years later, the study of the evolutionary history of acritarchs began to bog down amid inconsistencies in the reporting of the diversity of species. Now, a Virginia Tech graduate student has devised a new way to study the ebb and flow of life in the Neoproterozoic and Early Cambrian ages, a period that includes two mass extinctions.
John Warren Huntley of Asheville, N.C., a PhD. student in geosciences, will report on his strategy and results at the joint meeting of the Northeastern and Southeastern Sections of the Geological Society of America, to be held March 25-27 in Tysons Corner, Va.
"The evolutionary history of acritarchs reported in the literature has been based on the number of species," explains Huntley. "But there have been many workers collecting information and there is variation among these researchers on what is considered a species. This variation among workers could alter our understanding of what actually happened."
Susan Trulove | EurekAlert!
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