The Changing of the Ecological Guard at the Ediacaran-Cambrian Transition

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Prof. Jim Schiffbauer

University of Missouri

Tim Schubert
Dr. Tara Selly

University of Missouri


In this webinar, Dr. Matthew Andrew, geoscience technologist at ZEISS Microscopy, discusses with Prof. James Schiffbauer and Dr. Tara Selly, Department of Geosciences and X-ray Microanalysis Core, University of Missouri, their recent work published in Nature Communications. Their organization used the ZEISS Xradia Versa and ZEISS Sigma 500 VP to investigate the newly discovered internal structures of some of the earliest shell-building animals in the fossil record. With a team of colleagues, Schiffbauer and Selly report the first discovery of internal structures from this group of approximately 550-million-year-old organisms found in Nevada, which they interpret to represent fossilized guts, leading to an interpretation of these animals as early representatives of tube-dwelling worms. This discovery was made possible by volume imaging in the ZEISS Xradia Versa.

Key Learnings:

  • See how the use of X-ray and electron-beam instrumentation holds vast potential to investigate and characterize fossil materials and inform our understanding of the history of life.
  • Learn about some of the earliest shell-building animals on Earth, dating to about 550 million years ago.
  • Gain an understanding of how their internal anatomy, as first discovered using a ZEISS Xradia Versa, suggests that these fossils likely represent ancestors of modern tube worms.

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