1400-Million-Year-Old Shale-Facies Microbiota from the Lower Belt Supergroup, Montana

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Science  10 Feb 1978:
Vol. 199, Issue 4329, pp. 682-684
DOI: 10.1126/science.199.4329.682


Carbonaceous shales of the Middle Proterozoic Newland Limestone, Belt Supergroup, Little Belt Mountains, Montana, contain abundant and well-preserved filamentous and spheroidal microfossils. The filamentous forms, ranging from less than 1 to 12 micrometers in width, are interpreted as representing the preserved sheaths of at least four species of nostocalean cyanophytes. The spheroidal forms, ranging from 15 to 108 micrometers in size, are evidently planktonic forms and are tentatively interpreted as representing the encystment stage of eukaryotic algae. The Newland microbiota is adaptable to petrographic thin-section work, and useful for evaluating the potential of such microfossils for intercontinental biostratigraphic correlation. It is the oldest shale-facies microbiota presently known from North America.