FTIR microspectroscopy of Ediacaran phosphatized microfossils from the Doushantuo Formation, Weng'an, South China

Motoko Igisu, Tsuyoshi Komiya, Mika Kawashima, Satoru Nakashima, Yuichiro Ueno, Jian Han, Degan Shu, Yong Li, Junfeng Guo, Shigenori Maruyama, Ken Takai

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    22 Citations (Scopus)


    Phosphatized microfossils from ca. 580Ma from the Doushantuo Formation in the Weng'an region of South China were analyzed by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) microspectroscopy for their chemical characterization. Two morpho-types of phosphatized embryo-like fossils (Megasphaera and Megaclonophycus) were analyzed, together with algal fossils. Transmission IR spectra of the microfossils have absorption bands of around 2960cm-1 and 2925cm-1, indicating the presence of aliphatic hydrocarbon (anti-symmetric aliphatic CH3 and aliphatic CH2), and have an additional band of around 1595cm-1, probably derived from aromatic moieties (aromatic CC). In addition, IR microscopic mapping shows that aliphatic hydrocarbon and aromatics are distributed inside the embryo-like fossils. The embryo-like fossils appear to show three types of CH3/CH2 peak height ratios (R3/2) and aromatic CC/CH2 peak height ratios (RCC/2 values): (1) high-R3/2/low-RCC/2 type (R3/2=~0.2-1.0 and RCC/2~0-2), (2) low-R3/2/medium-RCC/2 type (R3/2=~0.2-0.6 and RCC/2=~1-4); and (3) low-R3/2/high-RCC/2 type (R3/2=~0.2-0.6 and RCC/2~1-8). All three types are contained in both Megasphaera and Megaclonophycus. Raman spectra for the carbonaceous matter within the rock sample show a similar degree of thermal alteration, indicating that the organics were embedded in situ prior to thermal maturation. The IR spectroscopic differences might reflect differences in original organic compositions of microorganisms, and/or immediate post-mortem alteration. This suggests that the origins of phosphatized embryo-like fossils are more diverse than was previously recognized on the basis of their morphology. A comparison of R3/2 and RCC/2 values in the embryo-like fossils with those of the algal fossils and the extant microorganisms indicates the possible interpretation that some of the embryo-like fossils belong to animal embryo, others are algae, but none of them originate from bacteria.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1120-1138
    Number of pages19
    JournalGondwana Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


    • Algal fossils
    • Aliphatic hydrocarbon
    • Doushantuo Formation
    • Embryo-like fossil
    • Micro-FTIR

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geology


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