Predation, and how organisms respond to it, is an important ecological interaction across the tree of life. Much of our understanding of predation focuses on modern metazoa. However, predation is equally important in single-celled eukaryotes (commonly referred to as protists). In the fossil record, we see evidence of protists preying on other protists beginning in the Tonian Period (1000–720 Ma). In addition, the first evidence of eukaryotic biomineralization and the appearance of multiple unmineralized but recalcitrant forms are also seen in the Tonian and Cryogenian (720–635 Ma), potentially indirect evidence of predation. This fossil evidence, coupled with molecular clock analyses, is coincident with multiple metrics that show an increase in the diversity of eukaryotic clades and fossil assemblages. Predation, thus, may have played a critical role in the diversification of eukaryotes and the evolution of protistan armor in the Neoproterozoic Era. Here, we review the current understanding of predation in the Tonian and Cryogenian oceans as viewed through the fossil record, and discuss how the rise of eukaryotic predation upon other eukaryotes (eukaryovory) may have played a role in major evolutionary transitions including the origins of biomineralization.

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