Sci Station Canada

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Unique fossils from a forgotten time

In an article from the BBC: "Rare fossil creatures from a mysterious time known as the Ediacaran are amongst the most exquisite examples of the earliest complex life, experts say. The 560-575-million-year-old specimens from Canada, of marine organisms called rangeomorphs, are preserved in three dimensions, Science magazine reports."

Dr. Guy Narbonne, of Queen's University in Ontario, Canada, found the new assemblage of fossils in an area called Spaniard's Bay in eastern Newfoundland and describes them as soft-bodied and plant-like, with 'frondlets' - leafy structures that branch from stems - that were probably free-floating, elevated above the sea floor by a stalk.

Their claim to fame? Dr Narbonne believes they are a single biological group, which can neither be classified as animals nor as plants. The period that they come from, the Ediacaran, was just before the 'Cambrian explosion', an evolutionary blossoming in which many important animal groups appeared for the first time.

They are also unusual in that they are a three dimensional fossil, even more amazing since they were a soft-bodied organism. They were probably buried in a mud-flow, which was then covered by ash from a nearby volcano. Talk about your bad luck days!

The Ediacaran was only accepted as a new geological time period this year - the first to be added in 120 years.

Just think of all those Geological wall charts in Science classrooms around the world that will have to be changed!


Post a Comment

<< Home