Newfoundland’s fossil-rich southeast coast has produced another major discovery shedding light on the origins of animal life on Earth.
A team of Canadian and British scientists has found a 560-million-year-old trackway — fossilized evidence of a primitive creature moving along an ancient seafloor — in rocks on the Avalon Peninsula south of St. John’s.
Significantly, the researchers believe the traces were left behind by Aspidella terranovica, the very species that first defined the recently declared “Ediacaran” era of geology — the first major revision to the calendar of the planet’s history in more than a century when it was ratified in 2004 by global scientific community.
The discovery is detailed in a study published this month in the journal Geology and co-authored by University of Oxford earth scientist Latha Menon, Memorial University of Newfoundland geologist Duncan McIlroy and Martin Brasier, an earth scientist affiliated with both Oxford and Memorial.
The researchers note that despite a general scientific consensus that Aspidella and similar species of its time — about 560 million years ago — were the world’s earliest animals, some experts have questioned that conclusion and theorized that many fossil species identified as Ediacaran were “not marine animals at all, but land-based lichens and microbial colonies.”
The fossilized trail, however, shows “evidence of both vertical and horizontal movement in a key Ediacaran taxon, consistent with an animal” species vaguely comparable to present-day sea anemones and other members of the cnidarian grouping of marine life.
Written By: Randy Boswellcontinue to source article at o.canada.com