The Precambrian-Cambrian boundary encompasses an important step in the evolutionary history of eukaryotic organisms. Neoproterozoic eukaryotes are best known for their multicellular representatives (animals and seaweeds), but important features such as the ability to biomineralize and form organic shells were already available in unicellular organisms, the first representatives of this group. Neoproterozoic microfossils from the southern portion of the Paraguay Belt (western Brazil) were recently described that preserved the composition of their hard parts. As one of the earliest examples of biomineralization, they may provide evidence on how the first eukaryotes synthesized their hard parts. A similar paleobiota is described in the Neoproterozoic Chuar Group, Grand Canyon (USA) and Togari Group, (Tasmania). Although Porter has found a few specimens with the preserved organic wall (personal communication), most of the specimens described in the world have no preserved original composition, contrary to their Brazilian equivalents. I want to visit the Paleobotanical Collection of University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), to process new samples from the Paraguay Belt and compare its fossil content to the Chuar Group microfossils from the UCSB collection in an attempt to establish the processes of synthesis of shells in similar microfossils during the Neoproterozoic.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: