Existing paleontological data indicate marked eukaryote diversification in the Neoproterozoic, ca. 800 Ma, driven by predation pressure and various other biotic and abiotic factors. Although the eukaryotic record remains less diverse before that time, molecular clock estimates and earliest crown-group affiliated microfossils suggest that the diversification may have originated during the Mesoproterozoic. Within new assemblages of organic-walled microfossils from the ca. 1150 to 900 Ma lower Shaler Supergroup of Arctic Canada, numerous specimens from various taxa display circular and ovoid perforations on their walls, interpreted as probable traces of selective protist predation, 150–400 million years before their first reported incidence in the Neoproterozoic. Selective predation is a more complex behavior than phagotrophy, because it requires sensing and selection of prey followed by controlled lysis of the prey wall. The ca. 800 Ma eukaryotic diversification may have been more gradual than previously thought, beginning in the late Mesoproterozoic, as indicated by recently described microfossil assemblages, in parallel with the evolution of selective eukaryovory and the spreading of eukaryotic photosynthesis in marine environments.

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