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Charnia masoni, a rangeomorph
Scientific classification
Unrecognized taxon (fix): Rangeomorpha

The rangeomorphs are a form taxon of frondose Ediacaran fossils that are united by a similarity to Rangea. Some workers, e.g., Pflug and Narbonne, suggest that a natural taxon Rangeomorpha may include all similar-looking fossils.

Rangeomorphs are a key part of the Ediacaran biota which survived about 30 million years, until the base of the Cambrian Template:Ma/1 million years ago. They were especially abundant in early Ediacaran Mistaken Point assemblage found in Newfoundland.[1]

Body plan

Rangeomorphs consist of branching "frond" elements, each a few centimetres long, each of which is itself composed of many smaller branching tubes held up by a semi-rigid organic skeleton. This self-similar structure proceeds over four levels of fractality, and could have been formed using fairly simple developmental patterns.[1]


Rangeomorphs dwelt mainly in the deep ocean, were unable to move, and had no apparent reproductive organs, perhaps reproducing asexually by dropping off new fronds. Nor is there evidence of a gut or mouth. This has led to the hypothesis that they gathered nutrients from seawater by osmosis.[2] Most were attached to the sea floor by a stalk or holdfast, although others (such as the spindle-shaped Fractofusus) lay flat on the sediment surface.[3]


Rangeomorph communities are similar in structure to those of modern, suspension-feeding animals, but it is difficult to relate their morphology to any modern animals. They have at times been aligned to a range of modern animal and protist groups, but none of these classifications has withstood scrutiny;[3] they probably represent an extinct stem group to either the animals or fungi.[1] Whilst the fractal construction may represent a convergent adaptation to osmotic feeding, most workers now consider it to be an apomorphy which establishes the rangeomorph clade as a valid taxonomic entity.[3] The quilted construction suggests a close affinity to the erniettomorphs.


  1. ^ a b c doi:10.1126/science.1099727
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  2. ^ doi: 10.1073/pnas.0904836106
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  3. ^ a b c doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2008.07.015
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Animal diversity This article is part of Project Animalia, a All Birds project that aims to write comprehensive articles on each animal, including made-up species.
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