QUALITATIVE AND QUANTITATIVE ASSESSMENT OF TAPHONOMIC PATTERNS IN MODERN ALGAE AND CYANOBACTERIA: IMPLICATIONS FOR IDENTIFYING PRECAMBRIAN MICROFOSSILS
Understanding characteristic taphonomic pattern in diverse groups can aid in recognizing eukaryotes in the Precambrian fossil record. Previous work has evaluated decomposition of algae and cyanobacteria separately; this project aims to make a direct comparison between photosynthetic prokaryotes and eukaryotes and to establish a framework by which other groups (e.g., fungi, animals) can be evaluated. In this research, we report decomposition patterns through qualitative description of trends (e.g., differential decomposition) and through quantitative analysis of decomposition. We describe observed taphonomic trajectories and compare cyanobacterial and algal patterns. Preliminary results indicated that there are characteristic differences between major groups. Based on these initial findings, taphonomic characters may be useful, when combined with traditional taxonomic characters, in inferring phylogenetic placement of Precambrian microfossils.