Name: Cloudina.
Phonetic: Clow-de-nah.
Named By: Germs‭ ‬-‭ ‬1972.
Synonyms: Aulophycus lucianoi.
Classification: Animalia,‭ ‬Cloudinidae.
Species: C.‭ ‬hartmannae‭ (‬type‭)‬,‭ ‬C.‭ ‬carinata,‭ ‬C.‭ ‬lucianoi,‭ ‬C.‭ ‬ningqiangensis,‭ ‬C.‭ ‬xuanjiangpingensis.
Diet: Filter feeder‭?
Size: Specimens range between‭ ‬8‭ ‬to‭ ‬150‭ ‬millimetres long,‭ ‬03.‭ ‬to‭ ‬6.5‭ ‬millimetres across.
Known locations: Possibly global distribution with specimens found across Africa,‭ ‬Asia,‭ ‬North America and South America.
Time period: ‬Ediacaran‭ ‬of the Cambrian.
Fossil representation: Many individuals of varying sizes and completeness.

       Cloudina is one of those Cambrian animals that is both very exciting in evolutionary terms,‭ ‬yet much mystery still surrounds it.‭ ‬Cloudina represents one of the first examples of a creature known to have had a hard mineralised shell,‭ ‬and before the discovery of this genus,‭ ‬all other known creatures of the Ediacaran period were soft bodied.‭ ‬During this time much of the sea floor was covered in microbial mats which seem to have been the main living area for ocean life during this time.‭ ‬Cloudina however is usually found in areas where there would have been no microbial mat.‭ ‬Maybe Cloudina was among the first animals to venture away from the microbial mats,‭ ‬maybe they were uprooted by tidal current to dwell elsewhere,‭ ‬we don’t yet know for certain.
       The shell of Cloudina resembled a series of upside down cones stacked on top of one another.‭ ‬The soft body of the organism was situated inside the shell,‭ ‬and in life the end of this soft body,‭ ‬perhaps with some kind of tendrils or filaments may have reached out to‭ ‬extract nutrients or organic matter passing by in the ocean currents.‭ ‬There is even speculation that in life the shell may have been flexible,‭ ‬though this is not yet certain.‭ ‬Even more telling about Cloudina though is that the shell,‭ ‬presumably evolved to be some kind of defence,‭ ‬sometimes shows sign of attack in the form of holes caused by boring.‭ ‬This suggests that even though Cloudina was‭ ‘‬armoured‭’‬,‭ ‬some animals had already evolved an effective means of attack to penetrate the hard shell to eat the soft body inside.

Further reading
-‭ ‬New shelly fossils from Nama Group,‭ ‬South West Africa.‭ ‬-‭ ‬American Journal of Science.‭ ‬272‭ (‬8‭)‬:‭ ‬752‭–‬761.‭ ‬-‭ ‬G.‭ ‬J.‭ ‬B.‭ ‬Germs‭ ‬-‭ ‬1972.
-‭ ‬The early skeletal organism Cloudina:‭ ‬new occurrences from Oman and possibly China.‭ ‬-‭ ‬American Journal of Science.‭ ‬290:‭ ‬245‭–‬260.‭ ‬-‭ ‬S.‭ ‬Conway Morris,‭ ‬B.‭ ‬W.‭ ‬Mattes‭ & ‬M.‭ ‬Chen‭ ‬-‭ ‬1990.
-‭ ‬Shell structure and distribution of Cloudina,‭ ‬a potential index fossil for the terminal Proterozoic.‭ ‬-‭ ‬American Journal of Science.‭ ‬290-A‭ (‬290‭–‬A‭)‬:‭ ‬261‭–‬294.‭ ‬S.‭ ‬W.‭ ‬Grant‭ ‬-‭ ‬1990.
-‭ ‬Predatorial Borings in Late Precambrian Mineralized Exoskeletons.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Science.‭ ‬257‭ (‬5068‭)‬:‭ ‬367‭–‬9.‭ ‬S.‭ ‬Bengtson‭ & ‬Y.‭ ‬Zhao‭ ‬-‭ ‬1992.
-‭ ‬Some observations on Cloudina,‭ ‬a terminal Proterozoic index fossil from Namibia.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Journal of African Earth Sciences.‭ ‬33‭ (‬3‭)‬:‭ ‬475‭–‬480.‭ ‬-‭ ‬C.‭ ‬K.‭ ‬Brain‭ ‬-‭ ‬2001.
-‭ ‬Borings in Cloudina Shells:‭ ‬Complex Predator-Prey Dynamics in the Terminal Neoproterozoic. -‭ ‬PALAIOS.‭ ‬18‭ (‬4‭–‬5‭)‬:‭ ‬454.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Hong Hua,‭ ‬Brian R.‭ ‬Pratt‭ & ‬Lu Yi Zhang‭ ‬-‭ ‬2003.
-‭ ‬A Revised Morphology of Cloudina with Ecological and Phylogenetic Implications.‭ ‬-‭ ‬A.‭ ‬J.‭ ‬Miller‭ ‬-‭ ‬2004.
-‭ ‬Skeletogenesis and asexual reproduction in the earliest biomineralizing animal Cloudina.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Geology.‭ ‬33‭ (‬4‭)‬:‭ ‬277‭–‬280.‭ ‬-‭ ‬H.‭ ‬Hua,‭ ‬Z.‭ ‬Chen,‭ ‬X.‭ ‬Yuan,‭ ‬L.‭ ‬Zhang‭ & ‬S.‭ ‬Xiao‭ ‬-‭ ‬2005.
-‭ ‬Inconsistencies in proposed annelid affinities of early biomineralized organism Cloudina‭ (‬Ediacaran‭)‬:‭ ‬structural and ontogenetic evidences.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Carnets de Géologie.‭ ‬-‭ ‬O.‭ ‬Vinn‭ & ‬M.‭ ‬Zatoń‭ ‬-‭ ‬2012.
-‭ ‬Transitional Ediacaran–Cambrian small skeletal fossil assemblages from South China and Kazakhstan:‭ ‬Implications for chronostratigraphy and metazoan evolution‭"‬.‭ ‬Precambrian Research.‭ ‬285:‭ ‬202‭–‬215.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Ben Yang,‭ ‬Michael Steiner,‭ ‬Maoyan Zhu,‭ ‬Guoxing Li,‭ ‬Jianni Liu‭ & ‬Pengju Lu‭ ‬-‭ ‬2016.
-‭ ‬The end of the Ediacaran:‭ ‬Two new exceptionally preserved body fossil assemblages from Mount Dunfee,‭ ‬Nevada,‭ ‬USA.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Geology.‭ ‬44‭ (‬11‭)‬:‭ ‬911.‭ ‬-‭ ‬E.‭ ‬F.‭ ‬Smith,‭ ‬L.‭ ‬L.‭ ‬Nelson,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬A.‭ ‬Strange,‭ ‬A.‭ ‬E.‭ ‬Eyster,‭ ‬S.‭ ‬M.‭ ‬Rowland,‭ ‬D.‭ ‬P.‭ ‬Schrag‭ & ‬F.‭ ‬A.‭ ‬MacDonald‭ ‬-‭ ‬2016.
-‭ ‬Discovery of bilaterian-type through-guts in cloudinomorphs from the terminal Ediacaran Period.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Nature Communications.‭ ‬11‭ (‬205‭)‬:‭ ‬205.‭ ‬-‭ ‬James D.‭ ‬Schiffbauer,‭ ‬Tara Selly,‭ ‬Sarah M.‭ ‬Jacquet,‭ ‬Rachel A.‭ ‬Merz,‭ ‬Lyle L.‭ ‬Nelson,‭ ‬Michael A.‭ ‬Strange,‭ ‬Yaoping Cai‭ & ‬Emily F.‭ ‬Smith‭ ‬-‭ ‬2020.


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