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Earth System Evolution and Early Life: A Celebration of the Work of Martin Brasier

Product Code: SP448
Series: GSL Special Publications - print copy
Author/Editor: Edited by A.T. Brasier, D. McIlroy and N. McLoughlin
Publication Date: 09 June 2017
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Special Publication 448

This volume in memory of Professor Martin Brasier, which has many of his unfinished works, summarizes recent progress in some of the hottest topics in palaeobiology including cellular preservation of early microbial life and early evolution of macroscopic animal life, encompassing the Ediacara biota. The papers focus on how to decipher evidence for early life, which requires exceptional preservation, employment of state-of-the-art techniques and also an understanding gleaned from Phanerozoic lagerstätte and modern analogues. The papers also apply Martin’s MOFAOTYOF principle (my oldest fossils are older than your oldest fossils), requiring an integrated approach to understanding fossils. The adoption of the null-hypothesis that all putative traces of life are abiotic until proven otherwise, and the consideration of putative fossils within their spatial context, characterized the work of Martin Brasier, as is well demonstrated by the papers in this volume.

Published online 24/05/2017. Print copies available from 09/06/2017.

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Type: Book
Ten Digit ISBN:
Thirteen Digit ISBN: 9781786202796
Publisher: GSL
Binding: Hardback
Pages: 440
Weight: 1.1 kg



Brasier, A. T., McIlroy, D. & McLoughlin, N. Contributions of Professor Martin Brasier to the study of early life, stratigraphy and biogeochemistry

Deciphering the earliest evidence for life

Antcliffe, J. B., Liu, A. G., Menon, L. R., McIlroy, D., McLoughlin, N. & Wacey, D. Understanding ancient life: how Martin Brasier changed the way we think about the fossil record

Hickman-Lewis, K., Garwood, R. J., Withers, P. J. & Wacey, D. X-ray microtomography as a tool for investigating the petrological context of Precambrian cellular remains

Grosch, E. G., Muñoz, M., Mathon, O. & McLoughlin, N. Earliest microbial trace fossils in Archaean pillow lavas under scrutiny: new micro-X-ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy, metamorphic and morphological constraints

The preservation, origins and interactions of early multicellular organisms – the Torridonian Supergroup, NW Scotland

Muirhead, D. K., Parnell, J., Spinks, S. & Bowden, S. A. Characterization of organic matter in the Torridonian using Raman spectroscopy

Wacey, D., Battison, L., Garwood, R. J., Hickman-Lewis, K. & Brasier, M. D. Advanced analytical techniques for studying the morphology and chemistry of Proterozoic microfossils

Wacey, D., Brasier, M., Parnell, J., Culwick, T., Bowden, S., Spinks, S., Boyce, A. J., Davidheiser-Kroll, B., Jeon, H., Saunders, M. & Kilburn, M. R. Contrasting microfossil preservation and lake chemistries within the 1200–1000 Ma Torridonian Supergroup of NW Scotland

Brasier, A. T., Culwick, T., Battison, L., Callow, R. H. T. & Brasier, M. D. Evaluating evidence from the Torridonian Supergroup (Scotland, UK) for eukaryotic life on land in the Proterozoic

Progress on understanding the evolution of animal life and the biosphere during the Precambrian–Cambrian transition

He, T., Zhou, Y., Vermeesch, P., Rittner, M., Miao, L., Zhu, M., Carter, A., Pogge von Strandmann, P. A. E. & Shields, G. A. Measuring the ‘Great Unconformity’ on the North China Craton using new detrital zircon age data

Shields, G. A. Earth system transition during the Tonian–Cambrian interval of biological innovation: nutrients, climate, oxygen and the marine organic carbon capacitor

Liu, A. G., Menon, L. R., Shields, G. A., Callow, R. H. T. & McIlroy, D. Martin Brasier’s contribution to the palaeobiology of the Ediacaran–Cambrian transition

Wood, R. Palaeoecology of Ediacaran metazoan reefs

Dufour, S. C. & McIlroy, D. Ediacaran pre-placozoan diploblasts in the Avalonian biota: the role of chemosynthesis in the evolution of early animal life

Kenchington, C. G. & Wilby, P. R. Rangeomorph classification schemes and intra-specific variation: are all characters created equal?

Matthews, J. J., Liu, A. G. & McIlroy, D. Post-fossilization processes and their implications for understanding Ediacaran macrofossil assemblages

Menon, L. R., McIlroy, D. & Brasier, M. D. ‘Intrites’ from the Ediacaran Longmyndian Supergroup, UK: a new form of microbially-induced sedimentary structure (MISS)

McMahon, S., van Smeerdijk Hood, A. & McIlroy, D. The origin and occurrence of subaqueous sedimentary cracks

Geyer, G. & Landing, E. The Precambrian–Phanerozoic and Ediacaran–Cambrian boundaries: a historical approach to a dilemma

McIlroy, D. & Brasier, M. D. Ichnological evidence for the Cambrian explosion in the Ediacaran to Cambrian succession of Tanafjord, Finnmark, northern Norway

Herringshaw, L. G., Callow, R. H. T. & McIlroy, D. Engineering the Cambrian explosion: the earliest bioturbators as ecosystem engineers

Studies of exceptional preservation

Brasier, M. D., Norman, D. B., Liu, A. G., Cotton, L. J., Hiscocks, J. E. H., Garwood, R. J., Antcliffe, J. B. & Wacey, D. Remarkable preservation of brain tissues in an Early Cretaceous iguanodontian dinosaur

Brasier, A. T., Cotton, L. J., Garwood, R. J., Baker-Brian, J., Howlett, E. & Brasier, M. D. Earliest Cretaceous cocoons or plant seed structures from the Wealden Group, Hastings, UK

Cotton, L. J., Vollrath, F., Brasier, M. D. & Dicko, C. Chemical relationships of ambers using attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy



David M. Jones

The papers are without exception detailed and erudite, each ending with extensive source reference lists, but all readable. Anyone interested in the earliest development of life on Earth will gain from them, but they are not bed-time reading!

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