Marc Laflamme

University of Toronto Mississauga
3359 Mississauga Road North
Ontario L5L 1C6
Death Valley Portraits-11

Research Interests

My research interests lie in the classification and preservation of the Ediacara biota, the oldest large and complex organisms in the rock record. These globally-distributed soft-bodied organisms abruptly appear in the fossil record some 578 million years ago, and represent the dominant members of early ecosystems up until the Cambrian explosion of animals. My research focuses on the evolutionary hierarchy and relationships amongst the Ediacara biota, and their relationships to modern animals. I have used traditional and landmark-based morphometric techniques to study the growth and differentiation in closely related species, and applied modeling techniques to evaluate the likely feeding strategies employed by these enigmatic organisms. My recent research focuses on understanding the preservation of soft tissues in the fossil record, combining laboratory decay experiments with extensive field-based studies in Newfoundland, South Australia, and Namibia. Results of this fieldwork showcased how growth, feeding, reproduction, and inter-species competition can be revealed through studies of fossil communities. My research has also utilized advanced instrumentation such as environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) to study the geochemical and sedimentological context of soft-tissue fossilization.