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Temporal range: Ediacaran
Arkarua adami is a small, Precambrian disk-like fossil with a raised center, a number of radial ridges on the rim, and a five-pointed central depression marked with radial lines of 5 small dots from the middle of the disk center. Fossils range from 3 to 10 mm in diameter.
All known specimens of Arkarua are casts that give no clue to the internal structure, making classification problematic. Because of Arkarua's pentamerous symmetry, it is tentatively placed within phylum Echinodermata. Because of its flattened disk- or button-shape, coupled with its pentamerous symmetry, some claim that it can be further classified into the Edrioasteroidea, a class of the echinoderms.
This identification remains suspect, as the fossils do not appear to have either madreporites, or plates of stereom, a unique crystalline form of calcium carbonate from which echinoderm skeletons are built. These two features are diagnostic of all other echinoderms, as all extinct and extant echinoderms have either one, the other, or both features present.
- Vendian animals: Arkarua from the Ediacara Hills of Australia, from the University of California Berkeley Museum of Paleontology. (pictures)