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Testing biomineralization in Corumbella werneri Hahn et al. (1982) and comparison with sinotubulites: geobiological perspectives of the earliest mineralized skeletal biotas

Grant number: 19/10929-3
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): September 03, 2019
Effective date (End): March 31, 2020
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Geosciences - Geology
Principal Investigator:Mírian Liza Alves Forancelli Pacheco
Grantee:Gabriel Ladeira Oses
Supervisor: Rachel Alison Waye Wood
Host Institution: Centro de Ciências Humanas e Biológicas (CCHB). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). Sorocaba , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of Edinburgh, Scotland  
Associated to the scholarship:17/21584-1 - Geobiological and palaeoenvironmental aspects of Corumbella werneri Hahn et al. (1982) and related biota (Ediacaran, Corumbá group), BP.DR


Biomineralization among metazoans is one of the most successful events of the Phanerozoic. However, its roots are even older. Animals with mineralized skeletons appeared around 551 Ma, in the Ediacaran-Cambrian transition. The drivers of biomineralization, as well as its impacts on ecology, environment, and biogeochemical cycles have been a matter of debate for the last decades. Despite important advances have been conquered, especially on the discovery of several extinct biomineralizers in the terminal Ediacaran, Corumbella werneri (Tamengo Formation, Corumbá Group), a cnidarian from ca. 541 Ma, has still been out of this discussion. Indeed, this taxon has been considered unmineralized, though recent evidence suggests the contrary. The aim of this research is to test whether Corumbella was a biomineralizer an objective from the doctoral project developed in Brazil. In order to accomplish this objective, samples of carapaces of Corumbella will be investigated by a multi-technical approach, at The University of Edinburgh and at the University of Surrey, under the supervision of Prof. Rachel Wood. This internship will capacitate the student in the use of these techniques on palaeontological research. Moreover, samples of Sinotubulites will be available for comparison with Corumbella, and for the biomineralization investigation of this other taxon. Consequently, in the case of Corumbella being a biomineralizer, this study would contribute both to increasing the diversity record of the earliest animals capable of biomineralizing hard parts, as well as to provide a more complete picture of their palaeobiogeography. This investigation would also develop a critical protocol for evaluating putative biomineralizers, thus enabling one to disentangle diagenetic biases and shed light on mineral attributes central for understanding animal biomineralization. Finally, this experimental exercise could create basis for a holistic geobiologic analysis of putative biomineralizers in the fossil record, involving preservation and biomineralization, which would contribute to the building of a more complete picture of the diversity and ecology of the earliest ecosystems (particularly siliciclastic facies) with mineralized skeletal macrobiotas. (AU)

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