Stratigraphic range: 635–577 Ma
The Lantian formation is a 150-meter-thick sequence of rocks deposited in southern China during a 90-million-year epoch in the Ediacaran period. Its algal macrofossils (which have alternatively been interpreted as putative metazoans) are the oldest large and complex fossils known.
The rocks were deposited in shallow seas, in the photic zone yet below storm wave base[clarification needed], yet were deposited in predominantly anoxic conditions. The fossils are located on the bedding planes, and are randomly oriented.
The lowest part of the formation consists of a cap dolostone, marking the end of the Marinoan glaciation and start of the Ediacaran. Above this is black shale containing the Lantian biota fossils. Above this are layers of dolomite, and shale followed by limestone. The highest part of the formation is black shale again. Above the formation is the Piyuancun formation consisting of silicious rock. The Lantian formation overlies diamictite from the Cryogenian.
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- supplementary figure 4 of doi:10.1038/nature09810