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Publication Detail
Coupling of ocean redox and animal evolution during the Ediacaran-Cambrian transition
The late Ediacaran to early Cambrian interval witnessed extraordinary radiations of metazoan life. The role of the physical environment in this biological revolution, such as changes to oxygen levels and nutrient availability, has been the focus of longstanding debate. Seemingly contradictory data from geochemical redox proxies help to fuel this controversy. As an essential nutrient, nitrogen can help to resolve this impasse by establishing linkages between nutrient supply, ocean redox, and biological changes. Here we present a comprehensive N-isotope dataset from the Yangtze Basin that reveals remarkable coupling between δ¹⁵N, δ¹³C, and evolutionary events from circa 551 to 515 Ma. The results indicate that increased fixed nitrogen supply may have facilitated episodic animal radiations by reinforcing ocean oxygenation, and restricting anoxia to near, or even at the sediment–water interface. Conversely, sporadic ocean anoxic events interrupted ocean oxygenation, and may have led to extinctions of the Ediacaran biota and small shelly animals.
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