Vendian Animals: Pteridinium

from the White Sea Region of Russia

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Pteridinium is common at the Summer Coast of the White Sea, and has also been found in Australia, Namibia and North Carolina. Exactly what it was, or how it lived, is open to question. Recent research by UCMP graduate Ben Waggoner suggests that if it was a cnidarian, it was not closely related to living cnidarians; it may belong to a phylum- level group that is now extinct.

Whatever it was, Pteridinium had an elongated, ribbed body that is usually found squashed flat. By examination of numerous specimens we can tell that it was composed of three ribbed "leaflets" which met along the central midline. It probably lay on the bottom, but we do not know whether it fed on small particles, took up dissolved nutrients from the water, depended on symbiotic microorganisms in its tissues, or perhaps used some combination of these ways of life.

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