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The Fezouata Shale (Lower Ordovician, Anti-Atlas, Morocco): A historical review

Abstract : Exceptionally preserved fossils yield crucial information about the evolution of Life on Earth. The Fezouata Biota from the Lower Ordovician of Morocco is a Konservat-Lagerstatte of major importance, and it is today considered as an `Ordovician Burgess Shale.' This biota was discovered only some 15 years ago, but geological studies of the area date back to the beginning of the 20th century. Pioneering geological investigations lead to the discovery of Ordovician strata in the Anti-Atlas (1929) and ultimately resulted in their formal subdivision into four main stratigraphic units (1942). In the Agdz area, the presence of fossiliferous Tremadocian (Lower Ordovician) strata was suspected as early as 1939, but only definitively confirmed in 1955. In the 1960s-1990s, Jacques Destombes provided the first detailed biostratigraphic framework for the Lower Ordovician of the Anti-Atlas, and collected thousands of fossils that were subsequently described in a series of monographs. In the early 2000s, exceptionally preserved fossils were discovered in the Fezouata Shale (Tremadocian-late Floian) in the central Anti-Atlas by Mohamed `Ou Said' Ben Moula. This biota, now known as the Fezouata Biota, is of utmost importance, for it demonstrates the extent in the fossil record of non-biomineralising animals typical of the `Cambrian Explosion' into the Ordovician, during the `Great Ordovician Biodiversification.' Although most components are still in need of formal descriptions, a fairly good picture of the composition and organisation of this biota, and how it contributes to our understanding of the early evolution of metazoan communities, can now be depicted. Moreover, recent studies have substantially clarified the biostratigraphical and palaeoenvironmental context of the Fezouata Shale, and are now being followed up by detailed investigations of the taphonomy, geochemistry and micropalaeontology of this unique Konservat-Lagerstatte. These efforts will soon greatly benefit from the recovery of fresh, unweathered samples from drill cores. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Ihadija El Hariri, Rudy Lerosey-Aubril, Thomas Servais, Peter van Roy, Bertrand Lefebvre. The Fezouata Shale (Lower Ordovician, Anti-Atlas, Morocco): A historical review. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, Elsevier, 2016, 460 (SI), pp.7-23. ⟨10.1016/j.palaeo.2015.10.048⟩. ⟨hal-02331130⟩



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