Ediacaran Geobiology and Soft-Tissue Fossilization
My interests lie in the classification and preservation of the Ediacara biota,the oldest large and complex organisms in the rock record. These globally-distributed soft-bodied organisms abruptly appear in the fossil record some 578 million years ago, and represent the dominant members of early ecosystems up until the Cambrian explosion of animals.My research focuses on the evolutionary hierarchy and relationships amongst the Ediacara biota, and their relationships to animals. I use morphometric techniques to study the growth and differentiation in closely related species, and apply modeling techniques to evaluate feeding strategies in these enigmatic organisms. I also apply advanced instrumentation such as Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) to study the geochemical and sedimentological context of soft-tissue fossilization.My recent research focuses on understanding the fossilization of soft tissues, combining laboratory decay experiments with extensive field-based studies in Newfoundland, South Australia, and Namibia. My fieldwork showcases how growth, feeding, reproduction, and inter-species competition can be revealed through studies of fossil communities.
ERS103H5 (Geology and Public Issues) and ERS313H5 (Sedimentology)
Darroch, S.A.F., Sperling, E.A., Boag, T., Racicot, R.A., Mason, S.J., Morgan, A.S., Tweedt, S., Myrow, P., Erwin, D.H. and Laflamme, M. 2015. Biotic replacement and mass extinction of the Ediacara biota. Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Laflamme, M., Darroch, S.A.F., and Schiffbauer, J.D. 2014. Reading and writing of the fossil record: preservational pathways to exceptional fossilization. The Paleontological Society Papers Volume 20.
Darroch, S.A.F., Laflamme, M., and Clapham, M.E. 2013. Population structure of the oldest known macroscopic communities from Mistaken Point, Newfoundland. Paleobiology, 39: 591-604.
Laflamme, M., Darroch, S.A.F., Tweedt, S., Peterson, K.J., and Erwin, D.H. 2013. The end of the Ediacara biota: extinction, biotic replacement, or Cheshire Cat? Gondwana Research, 23: 558–573.
Erwin, D.H., Laflamme, M. Tweedt, S.M. Sperling, E.A., Pisani, D., and Peterson, K.J. 2011. The Cambrian Conundrum: Early Divergence and later Ecological Success in the Early History of Animals. Science, 334: 1091-1097.