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the

EDIACARAN PERIODical
Ee-dee-AK-ar-an 635-541 Ma

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WINTER 2013

The Place Where Life First Got Big
NEWFOUNDLAND and LABRADOR CANADA

IN THIS ISSUE
Pursuing a UNESCO World Heritage on the Southern Avalon

Site

What’s It All About?
As a resident of Portugal Cove South, Biscay Bay, Trepassey, St. Shotts...or as a Newfoundlander and
Labradorian anywhere around the world….The Mistaken Point World Heritage Public Advisory Committee (PAC) is seeking your support for Mistaken Point becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What can I do?
You can learn as much as you can about Mistaken Point fossil beds and about the World Heritage application process… attend any workshops or meetings that are being held...go on a guided hike to Mistaken Point with a Reserve Interpreter this summer…get your family, friends and neighbors involved...and above all, ask LOTS of questions!

What is UNESCO?
The UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC and CULTURAL ORGANIZATION (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. (UNESCO. Org) This is embodied in an international treaty adopted by UNESCO in 1972, called the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

What is World Heritage?
Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. Places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa’s Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Baroque cathedrals of Latin America make up our world’s heritage. (UNESCO.org)

With your involvement and support, we hope to add Mistaken Point to the World Heritage List which contains only 13 ‘primary’ fossil sites!
The World Heritage List presently includes 962 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value.

Can you name these UNESCO World Heritage Sites?
© Jan Fritz © Silvan Rehfeld © Evergreen © Evergreen © Jean-Jacques Gelbart

Answer Key Page 4

© GoWesternNewfoundland

© Jamie Davies

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the EDIACARAN PERIODical

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© Nutshell Travel.com

WINTER 2013

Why Mistaken Point? Why Now?
Many years before the forefathers of the Southern Avalon
communities rigorously pulled their nets, overflowing with codfish...actually, millions of years before… the cliffs of Mistaken Point were awash with mighty waves of the North Atlantic. Although the ocean roared, it quietly kept a secret that Charles Darwin himself had been eagerly seeking throughout most of his life. Darwin is the English naturalist and geologist who, in his famous 1859 book On the Origin of Species, explained the diversity of life in terms of evolution and natural selection. Whether you are even interested in such theories, the fact of the matter is...these are VERY exciting times at Mistaken Point for science buffs from around the world. Darwin believed that prior to what is known as the ‘Cambrian explosion’; a time when there was a ‘sudden’ appearance of the ancestors of most modern animal groups fossilized in rocks of the Cambrian period, 541-485 million years ago; that the world swarmed with living creatures... but he could not find proof in the form of fossils to support his theory. He believed, “...it is indisputable that before the lowest Cambrian stratum [sediment layer] was deposited ...the world swarmed with living things.” But, “To the question of why we do not find rich fossiliferous deposits belonging to these...periods prior to the Cambrian system, I can give no satisfactory answer.” This came to be known as ‘Darwin’s Dilemma’. Mistaken Point is providing INCREDIBLE information to assist in solving this dilemma. However, it is still early days in our understanding of this ‘millions of years old puzzle’. The pieces of the puzzle to existence of pre-Cambrian life gradually emerged in pockets of information around the world. As early as 1868, Scottish geological surveyor Alexander Murray, the first to develop a reliable topographical map of insular Newfoundland, discovered odd ‘disc-shaped’ features that proved helpful in aging and mapping rock formations of the Avalon. Ironically, being almost the same age, Murray was conducting his investigations at the same time as Darwin! As geologists made similar discoveries in Newfoundland and other parts of the world, they debated what these peculiar formations were and whether they were actual proof that pre-Cambrian multi-cellular life did indeed exist. It was not until 1957 with the British discovery of Charnia; a leaf-like life form from the Ediacaran (ee dee AK ar an) Period, 635-541

million years ago, that pre-Cambrian cellular life was seriously considered. By 1959, paleontologist Martin Glaessner, and others, had started to bring the many puzzle pieces together and compile the evidence Darwin himself had been looking for.
In 1967, MUN graduate student Shiva B. Misra and his field assistant, Paul Thompson, came upon the fossils of Mistaken Point as they were mapping the rocks between Cape Race and Portugal Cove South. The exceptional detail of the fossils, preserved under volcanic ash, allowed the identification of fine features in the Mistaken Point specimens that other discoveries lacked. Today, Mistaken Point is quickly proving to be one of the most significant fossil sites on Earth – containing the earliest known (579 million years old), architecturally complex, soft-bodied organisms. These fossils are also the largest of their kind in the world! It wasn’t until 2004 that the geologic time span from ca. 635-541 Ma (million years ago) was officially named as the ‘Ediacaran Period’. Mistaken Point offers a remarkable opportunity to experience an exquisite exhibit of Ediacaran fossils… and it is in the backyard of the communities along Newfoundland’s Southern Avalon!

Fossil Find!
Place the letter in the box to match each fossil with its correct name. Answer Key Page 4

A

‘Pizza Disc’ Ivesheadia ‘Bush’ Bradgatia ‘Spindle’ Fractofusus

B

C
the EDIACARAN PERIODical © Page 3

WINTER 2013

You’ve Got Questions?... We’ve Got Answers!
World Heritage Community Liaison Cape Race-PCS Heritage Inc.
Please contact me to learn more about the World Heritage application process for Mistaken Point. It’s YOUR heritage...Let’s talk!

Jane Smith Parsons

www.UNESCO.org Mistaken Point Ambassadors WhereLifeGotBig Jane@MistakenPoint.ca (709) 438-2457 or (709) 682-7484
Answer Key Below

1.

Local residents are allowed to pick berries without permits anywhere within the Reserve except within the Fossil Protection Zone (FPZ) which extends 15m back from the cliff/turf’s edge.

T or F

2.

During the winter sea duck hunting season, hunters with a FPZ permit are permitted to drive their ATV’s along the trail to Watern Cove until they reach the Watern Cove River, and also along the Berry Picker’s Trail to where it intersects with the Watern Cove-Mistaken Point Trail. Beyond these points they are permitted to walk to access coastal rocks.
To access Mistaken Point during the winter sea duck hunting season, hunters are not permitted to drive all the way to Mistaken Point on their ATV’s. Members of the public are permitted to have fires on the beaches at The Drook and Long Beach. Hunters, with Fossil Protection Zone (FPZ) permits and a valid hunting license, are allowed to have their dogs accompany them during the fall and winter hunting seasons.

T or F T or F T or F T or F T or F

3. 4. 5.

6.
7.

Fishing is permitted in the Reserve’s inland waterways during the fishing season, BUT access to inland waters within the 15m Fossil Protection Zone is by FPZ permit only (no fee).
Local residents are allowed to hike on trails in the Reserve without a permit except in the 15m Fossil Protection Zone from the cliff/turf’s edge. They can request permits (no fee) to access the 15m Fossil Protection Zone, BUT are not permitted to access the fossil-bearing rocks. In order to protect the fossil-bearing rocks, to see the fossils in the Reserve, all individuals and groups must take an official guided tour with a Reserve Interpreter.

T or F T or F

8.

Unmarked Photo Credits: Thank You to Julie Cappleman, Dr. Richard Thomas, Jane Smith Parsons, Parks and Natural Areas Division (PNAD)

TRUE or FOSSIL??

Fossil Find!

C

‘Pizza Disc’ Ivesheadia

A

‘Bush’ Bradgatia

B

‘Spindle’ Fractofusus

1 5

1., 2., 3., 4., 5., 6., 7., 8. All are True

Can you name these UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

2 6
Page 4

3 7

4 8

1. 2. 3. 4.

The Great Wall, China Machu Picchu, Peru Great Barrier Reef, Australia Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA

5.

6. 7. 8.

Vatican City, Rome, Italy L’anse aux Meadows, NL, Canada Serengeti Plains, Tanzania, Africa Pharaoh & Pyramids, Giza, Egypt

the EDIACARAN PERIODical

© WINTER 2013