Unmieralized Fossil Bacteria

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Science  06 Sep 1963:
Vol. 141, Issue 3584, pp. 919-921
DOI: 10.1126/science.141.3584.919


Unmineralized bacterial cells, mostly Micrococcus sp., but including also Streptococcus sp. and Actinomyces sp., were found in enormous numbers in lake beds of the Newark Canyon Formation of Early Cretaceous age, Eureka County, Nevada. The micrococci are black, and have an average diameter about 0.5 µ. Similar black micrococci (0.4 to 0.7 µ) were found in profusion in the bottom mud of Green Lake, New York. About 80 percent of this mud consists of minute idiomorphic calcite crystals and about 20 percent of these contain enormous numbers of the black micrococci. It is suggested that the Early Cretaceous bacterial cells owe their preservation to occlusion in calcite crystals that grew in a black, bacterial mud in a meromictic lake in which part of the Newark Canyon Formation accumulated.