RIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER: INVESTIGATING THE LIFE HABIT OF ATTENBORITES JANAE
Attenborites is an irregular taxon possessing three morphotypes, circular, ovate, and triangular, which appear to be the result of differential orientation of the organisms when preserved upon the microbial mat. Additionally, the outer margins of Attenborites specimens are well-defined, supporting the conclusion that the taxon was not imbedded in the mat but distinctly separated from it during life. Attenborites are usually preserved with internal, longitudinal ridges, and the density and number of ridges on a singular specimen appear to be random with no correlation to the size of an individual. Additionally, these ridges commonly converge at one end of the fossil, forming an internal triangular pattern. The variation in the number and density of these ridges indicates that they likely formed during deflation of the organism, while the triangular convergence of the ridges on many specimens suggests that they preferentially form in a pattern reflecting morphological characteristics of Attenborites. These lines of evidence together support the position that Attenborites was most likely pelagic and living in the water column rather than on the seafloor.