Tuesday, September 3, 2013


CELEBRATING NEWFOUNDLAND'S EDIACARAN FOSSILS!: Hallelujah for ichnologists who can read the rocks and interpret the patterns imprinted on their surfaces! Hallelujah for deep time and strata that holds the presence of life from millions of years ago! Hallelujah for the best record of Ediacaran fossils in the world located in Newfoundland! (Art by Hallelujah Truth, aka Ruth Schowalter and wife of the brilliant ichnologist Anthony Martin)

ANCIENT ENIGMAS. Along the coast of the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland, Canada, one can see fossils from more than 500 million years ago. For more information about this topic, go to Liam Herringshaw's blog entry: East Coast Trails: Mistaken Point Just May Be The Place Where Animals First Got Going.  (Photo by Tony Martin and photoshopped by Hallelujah)
Hallelujah for superlatives in ichnology and witnessing the most important and spectacular Ediacaran fossil assemblages in the world firsthand. On the last day of a three-day field trip for Ichnia 2012 in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, our group happily climbed into our bus from our hotel in Trepassy to JOURNEY to Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve (See Day 1 and Day 2 of the Ichnia field trip).

FIRST THINGS FIRST. Before we arrived at Mistaken Point our bus halted, and Jack Matthews catapulted out of the bus to climb atop an outcrop containing pizza-shaped Ediacaran fossils.
SIZE AND VARIATION IN FORMS. Jack (white shirt) leans on the table of the Ediacaran pizza parlor. He wanted us to observe how large this "animal" had been and how the shapes were different. He hypothesized that what we were looking at were the decayed remains of the original organisms. 
CLOSE UP OF ONE OF THE "PIZZAS" APPARENTLY MISSING PEPPERONI. The Canadian flag scale is 5 centimeters (2 inches) long, thus indicating this Ediacaran organism was the size of a small personal pizza.
DEEP MARINE BED TILTED FROM ITS ORIGINAL HORIZONTAL POSITION. I am standing with two women in the forefront of this photo (wearing the rust shirt and hat) on really old rocks, which are about 570 million years old and containing the Ediacaran fossils. The rocks were originally soft sands and muds on a deep seafloor, but they became solid and are now are on land and tilted after so long ago.
ONWARD TO MISTAKEN POINT. Because of the preciousness of the Ediacaran fossils on Mistaken Point, visitors, even scientific ones, need to be accompanied by guides/interpreters.
HIKING IN TO THE EDIACARAN. Walking along the green meadows high above the sea cliffs, the Newfoundland landscape awed us with its beauty. It took close to an hour of hiking to get us to the superlative Ediacaran fossils. (Photo by Tony Martin)
BAMA BOOTIES. To reduce the likelihood of damaging the surface of these ancient sea floor fossils, visitors are asked to take off their hiking boots and to put on soft-felted booties. Here, three Spanish paleontologists - Zain, Francisco, and Jordi - eagerly don their protective gear: protective of the fossils, that is. (Photo by Tony Martin)
ARTISTIC DEPICTION OF THE ANCIENT ORGANISMS. Before visiting the ecological reserve of Mistaken Point, visitors stop at the interpretive center so they can better understand the fossils that lived on the floor of the sea hundreds of millions of years ago. Here, the artwork and corresponding photos acts as an identification guide for anyone wanting to know "who" was "who." (Photo by Tony Martin)
PLANT OR ANIMAL? As these organisms are studied, paleontologists are still debating which life forms these are most related to: plants or animals? The Ediacaran fossil you see above resembles a dense frond, but was it a plant?

PHOTOSHOPPED EDIACARAN FOSSILS.  Why not play around with these images of ancient life forms, which evoke something familiar yet unidentifiable to the average non-paleontologist?
PLANT OR ANIMAL? Ha Ha, just kidding! Here, Chiboogamoo (Tony Martin), clad in his stylish Bama Booties, kneels to worship the Ediacaran fossils, and tries to "read" the rocks with his fingers. (Photo by Hallelujah)
MISTAKEN POINT IN THE MIST. Although the mist makes the Newfoundland coast look mysterious, the lack of sun shining on the rocks meant poor visibility of the most important and spectacular Ediacaran fossils in the world! We were fortunate enough, however, to have another location to explore. (Photo by Tony Martin)
CLAN OF ICHNIA.  As our time on the fossil-laden surface dwindled, we realized that we needed to commemorate our time together in such a special place. So we posed for a group picture. (P.S. Do you see Paleontologist Barbie in the photo? P.P.S. This was the last time we were in the field with Jordi Maria de Gilbert - fourth from left in the back row - who, sadly enough, died unexpectedly shortly after arriving back home in Spain.)
(Photo by one of the ecological reserve guides)
OUR FEARLESS FIELDTRIP ORGANIZERS AND LEADERS. Hallelujah for Jack Matthews (left) and Liam Herringshaw for their clarity, good cheer, and plummy British accents. They were solid companions during the long bus rides between stops and motels, and enjoyed having something intelligent to say about the Ediacaran as occurring in Newfoundland. (Photo by Hallelujah)
LOVERS BELOW A HIGHER PLANE. As Chiboogamoo, Paleontologist Barbie, and I posed for a photo at Mistaken Point, much scientific debate raged above us. We seemed oblivious to it, just taking in the happy sense of belonging in such an ancient place. (Photo by one of the ecological guides)
MISTAKEN POINT IN THE MIST. Once the investigations were made, the photos taken, we trekked out of the ecological reserve, away from the misty cliffs, and the ancient sea floors with their evidence of burgeoning life from more than 570 million years ago. Because of the mists, perhaps, we did not view these Ediacaran fossils at their best, but by golly, we had a good time trying!(Photo by Tony Martin)
HALLELUJAH FOR THE EDIACARAN IN NEWFOUNDLAND AT MISTAKEN POINT. (Art by Hallelujah Truth, aka Ruth Schowalter and wife of the brilliant ichnologist Anthony Martin. Here I have photoshopped the image at the top of this blog entry to evoke a different feeling, perhaps one of celebration instead of enigma!)
That's Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and tell me what you think of these Ediacaran fossils from more than 500 million years ago. Be sure to take a look if you haven't already at the two other blogs about looking at these fossils in Newfoundland: Day 1 and Day 2. 

Note: This blog entry was completed more than a year after the journey to Newfoundland. Reflecting on Ichnia 2012, from my home in Decatur, Georgia, at the beginning of September 2013, I found it difficult to recall all the wonderful ideas I was going to report on. Therefore, I called upon the exceptional skills of Chiboogamoo, the resident ichnologist in my household, to help me complete this blog. I wish to express gratitude to said ichnologist for his patience and knowledge. Oh and thank you for the beer at The Marlay while we pieced together our expedition to Mistaken Point.

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing adventure. I would love to meditate there - what a sacred space. I love the science and the fossils too! Thanks for taking the time to recreate your journey so we could experience it too!