Research

Taphonomy

Our primary research focus, we study the processes of soft-tissue preservation throughout the record of animal life—with specific emphases on pyritization, carbonaceous compression, phosphatization, and aluminosilicification.

A few example publications include:

1. Schiffbauer, J.D.*, Xiao, S., Sen Sharma, K., and Wang, G. The origin of intracellular structures in Ediacaran metazoan embryos. Geology 40: 223–226. <link>

2. Schiffbauer, J.D.*, Xiao, S., Cai, Y., Wallace, A.F., Hua, H., Hunter, J.L., Xu, H., Peng, Y., and Kaufman, A.J. A unifying model for Neoproterozoic–Paleozoic exceptional fossil preservation through pyritization and carbonaceous compression. Nature Communications 5:5754. <link>

3. Broce, J.S., and Schiffbauer, J.D.* Taphonomic analysis of Cambrian vermiform fossils of Utah and Nevada, and implications for the chemistry of Burgess Shale-type preservation. Palaios 32: 600–619. <link>

Paleobiology & Paleoecology

We spend much of our time at the Ediacaran-Cambrian transition, and because many of the organisms at this interval are enigmatic, we also focus on contributing to our phylogenetic, taxonomic, paleobiological, and paleoecological understanding of the dawn of animals.

A few example publications include:

1. Schiffbauer, J.D.*, Selly, T.*, Jacquet, S.M., Nelson, L.L., Strange, M.A., Cai, Y., and Smith, E.F. Discovery of bilaterian-type through-guts in cloudinomorphs from the terminal Ediacaran Period. Nature Communications 11:205. <link>

2. Selly, T.*, Schiffbauer, J.D.*, Jacquet, S.M., Smith, E.F., Nelson, L.L., Andreasen, B.D., Huntley, J.W., Strange, M.A., O’Neil, G.R., Thater, C.A., Bykova, N., Steiner, M., Yang, B., and Cai, Y. A new cloudinid fossil assemblage from the terminal Ediacaran of Nevada, USA. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 18: 357–379. <link>

3. Schiffbauer, J.D.*, Huntley, J.W., O’Neil, G.R., Darroch, S.A.F., Laflamme, M., and Cai, Y. The latest Ediacaran wormworld fauna: Setting the ecological stage for the Cambrian explosion. GSA Today 26: 4–11. <link>

Descriptive Paleontology

More recently, in our efforts to examine taphonomic pathways outside of the Ediacaran-Cambrian transition (or, generally other intriguing modes of preservation and localities), we've also realized a need to contribute descriptive works to detail organisms or preservational properties.

A few example publications include:

1. Pulsipher, M.A., Anderson, E.P., Wright, L.S., Kluessendorf, J., Mikulic, D.G., and Schiffbauer, J.D.*. Description of Acheronauta gen. nov., a vermiform basal mandibulate from the Silurian Waukesha Lagerstätte, Wisconsin, USA. Journal of Systematic Paleontology. <coming soon>

2. Anderson, E.P.*, Schiffbauer, J.D., Jacquet, S.M., Kluessendorf, J., and Mikulic, D.G. Stranger than a scorpion: a reassessment of Parioscorpio venator, a problematic arthropod from the Llandoverian Waukesha Lagerstätte. Palaeontology 64: 429–474. <link>

3. Muscente, A.D.*, Martindale, R.C., Schiffbauer, J.D., Creighton, A., and Bogan, B.A. Taphonomy of the Lower Jurassic Konservat-Lagerstätte at Ya Ha Tinda (Alberta, Canada) and its significance for exceptional fossil preservation during oceanic anoxic events. Palaios 34: 515–541. <link>

Stable Isotope Geochemistry

We additionally use tools of isotope geochemistry to investigate both taphonomic questions as well as broader scale perturbations to the Earth system, such as the Steptoean Positive Isotopic Carbon Excursion (or SPICE event).

A few example publications include:

1. Ren, G., Meng, F.*, Pulsipher, M.A., Schiffbauer, J.D.*, Yuan, J., Zhao, Y., Guo, Y., Gao, J., and Chang, C. A contiguous record of the SPICE event, sea level change, and the first appearance of Fenghuangella laevis in Shandong Province, North China. Lethaia. <link>

2. Pulsipher, M.A., Schiffbauer, J.D.*, Jeffrey, M.J., Huntley, J.W., Fike, D.A., and Shelton, K.L. A meta-analysis of the Steptoean Positive Carbon Isotope Excursion: The SPICEraq database. Earth-Science Reviews 212: 103442. <link>

3. Schiffbauer, J.D.*, Huntley, J.W., Fike, D.A., Jeffrey, M.J., Gregg, J.M., and Shelton, K.L. Decoupling biogeochemical records, extinction, and environmental change during the Cambrian SPICE event. Science Advances 3: e1602158. <link>

Analytical Microscopy

With our X-ray Microanalysis Core Facility in-house, we not only explore electron- and x-ray microscopy techniques on fossil materials, but also have built a broad group of collaborators outside of paleontology and geological sciences to apply these techniques to expansive specimen types.

A few example publications include:

1. Selly, T.*, and Schiffbauer, J.D. X-ray tomographic microscopy as a means to systematically track experimental decay and fossilization. Palaios. <link>

2. Gibson, B.M.*, Schiffbauer, J.D., and Darroch, S.A.F. Ediacaran-style decay experiments using mollusks and sea anemones. Palaios 33: 185–203. <link>

3. Schiffbauer, J.D.*, and Xiao, S. Novel application of focused ion beam electron microscopy (FIB-EM) in preparation and analysis of microfossil ultrastructures: A new view of complexity in early eukaryotic organisms. Palaios 24: 616–626. <link>