A complex microbiota from snowball Earth times: Microfossils from the Neoproterozoic Kingston Peak Formation, Death Valley, USA
A thin carbonate unit associated with a Sturtian-age (≈750-700 million years ago) glaciogenic diamictite of the Neoproterozoic Kingston Peak Formation, eastern California, contains microfossil evidence of a once-thriving prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbial community (preserved in chert and carbonate). Stratiform stromatolites, oncoids, and rare columnar stromatolites also occur. The microbial fossils, which include putative autotrophic and heterotrophic eukaryotes, are similar to those found in chert in the underlying preglacial units. They indicate that microbial life adapted to shallow-water carbonate environments did not suffer the significant extinction postulated for this phase of low-latitude glaciation and that trophic complexity survived through snowball Earth times.