Paleontology

Moving by Mistake

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Science  05 Mar 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5970, pp. 1180
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5970.1180-c

Large macroscopic animal fossils first appear in the Ediacaran, the period just before the Cambrian, about 600 million years ago. Although there are some clear trackways closer to the Cambrian, and several purported reports of earlier tracks, most of these fossils seem to have been sessile organisms. One of the most diverse megafossil assemblages, and one of the oldest, is at Mistaken Point, Newfoundland, dating to 565 million years ago. A variety of leaf-like forms extending up to several tens of centimeters are thought to represent early suspension feeders. Liu et al. now report the presence of several tracks in these rocks, implying that mobile animals were also present. The tracks range up to more than 1 cm in width and extend for tens of centimeters. It seems that, together with the diverse macrofossils, Mistaken Point preserves a diverse marine benthic ecosystem at this time.

Geology 38, 123 (2010).

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