The Ediacaran Period is host to the first large and complex multicellular organisms known in the fossil record. This 'Ediacaran Biota' has long eluded definitive placement on the tree of life, seemingly falling between even the most fundamental of its branches. At the core of this taxonomic issue are their unique body plans, not seen replicated in any other kingdom.
Amongst the researchers trying to unravel the mystery of these organisms is Dr Frances Dunn of the University of Oxford. Frankie has been researching the developmental biology of the Ediacaran Biota in the hope that we can learn more from how these forms grew, as opposed to what they eventually grew into.