Elucidating Ernietta: new insights from exceptional specimens in the Ediacaran of Namibia

Andrey Yu Ivantsov, Guy M. Narbonne, Peter W. Trusler, Carolyn Greentree, Patricia Vickers-Rich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Exceptionally preserved specimens of Ernietta in a shallow-marine gutter cast from southern Namibia reveal that all previously figured specimens of this iconic Ediacaran megafossil are incomplete, representing only the base of a larger and more complex organism. The complete organism is interpreted as comprising a buried, sand-filled anchor exhibiting the classical Ernietta morphology that passes distally into a trunk that is crowned by two facing fans that extended into the overlying water column. All parts of Ernietta, from the base of its buried anchor to the tip of its fans, appear to have been composed of a palisade of tubular elements that have been variably preserved. Similarity of tubule morphology despite the inherent difference in function between these constructions supports the view that these tubes were integral to all anatomical parts and functions of Ernietta. This style of architecture, construction and function is unique to the Erniettomorpha, supporting the view that it represents an extinct Ediacaran clade in the early evolution of multi-cellular life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)540-554
Number of pages15
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • Ernietta
  • Ediacaran
  • Erniettomorpha
  • Nama Group
  • Namibia
  • Taphonomy

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