• Cyanobacteria;
  • microbial fossils;
  • Mesoproterozoic;
  • multi-trichomous;
  • Oscillatoriaceae;
  • Eoschizothrix composita;
  • stromatolites

Populations of the multi-trichomous microbial fossil Eoschizothrix composita n.gen. et sp. are preserved in growth position in silicified stratiform stromatolites of the Gaoyuzhuang Formation, Hebei Province, northern China. The microbial fossils consist predominantly of preserved sheaths, although several specimens retain shriveled remains of trichomes within sheaths. Comparisons with modern morphological counterparts, including shape, growth habit and orientation, degradational sequences, and habitat, support the interpretation of the multi-trichomous microfossils as cyanobacteria, which acted as frame-builders of ancient stromatolites. The distribution and orientation of multi-trichomous microfossils within a synsedimentary context reveal their behavioral responses to sedimentation regime. Horizontally spread, interwoven mats formed during periods of sedimentary stasis. During periods of rapid sediment influx, the filaments assumed an upright orientation, possibly to avoid accumulating particles. This is the first record of fossil stromatolite-building multi-trichomous cyanobacteria, which underscores early morphological and functional diversification in cyanobacterial evolution.