Past research projects
insights into ediacaran frondose taxa
The group has produced several publications in recent years on frond-shaped fossils of the late Ediacaran Period. Collaboration with Dr Frankie Dunn, initially as part of her PhD at the University of Bristol, has provided new insight into the rangeomorph taxon Charnia masoni (Dunn et al., 2019a), and the arboreomorph Arborea arborea (Dunn et al., 2019b), proposing that both taxa may represent total group eumetazoans. Another recent paper demonstrated that individual Ediacaran fronds could be connected on bedding planes by filamentous structures (Liu & Dunn, 2020), which we interpret as evidence in support of the suggestion that some taxa could reproduce asexually via stolons (Mitchell et al., 2015). Our research into the taxonomy, palaeoecology, and phylogenetic placement of these organisms continues.
ediacaran fossil preservatioN
The processes by which soft-bodied organisms were frequently preserved in the late Ediacaran Period have been an area of long-standing interest for members of the group. Previous work has employed petrological techniques to demonstrate the presence of pyritic veneers on fossil-bearing bedding planes in Newfoundland (Liu, 2016) and Australia (Liu et al., 2019). Our taphonomic work, led by PhD student Phil Vixseboxse, continues as part of our Leverhulme Research Project.
meiofaunal trace fossils from the latest EDIACARAN OF BRAZIL (2017)
Expanding on a project initiated by Prof. Martin Brasier of the University of Oxford and colleagues at the USP in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and in collaboration with Dr Dan Condon of the British Geological Survey, a project led by Dr Luke Parry (Oxford) described and dated the oldest examples of meiofaunal trace fossils, from latest Ediacaran siltstones of the Guaicurus Formation, near Corumba, Mato Grosso do Sul (Parry et al., 2017). These Brazilian collaborations remain active, most notably with Dr Luana Morais (USP) and Dr Bernardo Freitas.
initial forays into the ediacaran (2007-2011)
Alex's initial work on Ediacaran palaeontology, taphonomy and ichnology began during his doctoral degree at the University of Oxford. Under the supervision of Prof. Martin Brasier and Prof. Duncan McIlroy, he described evidence for surface trace fossils from the Mistaken Point Formation in Newfoundland (Liu et al., 2010), proposed an 'effaced preservation' hypothesis to explain irregularly shaped ivesheadiomorph fossils (Liu et al., 2011), and described populations of juvenile frondose Ediacaran taxa (Liu et al., 2012).