Diverse and abundant lipid biomarker assemblages have been reported from a variety of Proterozoic marine environments from the careful analysis of well-preserved rocks and oils. These molecular biosignatures have provided unique insights into the communities and the environmental conditions which characterized the Proterozoic marine biosphere. We summarize some of the major temporal patterns evident in Proterozoic lipid biomarkers found to date, whilst emphasizing the scale of local heterogeneity found within Neoproterozoic oceans from region to region, and their relationship with the evolving ecological, climatic and ocean/atmospheric redox conditions. Short commentaries on a selection of papers published from the last 15 years of biomarker literature are given. The focus here is on key studies, highlighted for further reading, which have helped to better constrain the timing of the ecological expansion of eukaryotes in Proterozoic oceans or which have impacted on our knowledge of the biological sources of Proterozoic biomarkers.
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