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Fascinating exploration of the marine life forms known as Ediacarans, the oldest known fossils yet discovered which date back some 600 million years. McMenamin, who has been carrying out research into these unique life forms for many years, concludes that although they are related to animals, Ediacarans were not animals in the strict sense, because they never passed through an embryonic stage that is peculiar to all known life forms. However, they seemed to have developed a central nervous system and brain independently from animal evolution. This finding has profound implications for our understanding of evolution.
Mark A. S. McMenamin is professor of geology at Mount Holyoke College. He is the author of a number of groundbreaking books on paleobiology and evolution, including The Emergence of Animals: The Cambrian Breakthrough and Hypersea: Life on Land (with Dianna L. S. McMenamin), both published by Columbia. He edited and annotated the English translation of Vladimir Vernadsky's The Biosphere, and is also the coeditor (with Lynn Margulis) of the English translation of L. Khakhina's Concepts of Symbiogenesis.
[A] thought-provoking personal exploration of what the Ediacaran fossils represent. -- "Tree"