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Discovery of Ediacaran Fossils in Southeastern Newfoundland


In the summer of 1967, S.B.Misra an Indian graduate student (1966 - 69) from Newfoundland's Memorial University discovered a rich asssemblage of imprints of soft bodied organisms on the surface of large rock slabs in the Conception Group of Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland near Cape Race, at a place called Mistaken Point.
These unusual impressions of previously unknown soft-bodied sea animals on the surfaces of argillites (mudstone) included coelenterates and other metazoa of the ediacarian age ie. more than 560 million years old. Misra made the discovery during the course of geological mapping of the previously unmapped area of southeastern part of the Avelon Peninsula of Newfoundland.
Misra was the first to prepare and present a systematic geological map of the region, to classify and describe the rock sequence of the area and to work out the depositional history of the rocks.

The description of the fossil assemblage together with their mode of occurrence, cause of sudden death, ecological conditions and chronological position form part of Misra's detailed thesis submitted at Memorial University of Newfoundland for the degree of Master of Science. The discovery was reported in 1968 in the NATURE published from London. Misra described the Mistaken Point Fauna in detail in 1969, in a paper published in the Bulletin of the Geological Society of America. He described the fossil assemblage into four groups namely:
  • Spindle-shaped
  • Leaf-shaped
  • Round lobate
  • Dendrite like
  • Radiating
Each group was defined in terms of Distribution and Form, sub-categories and biological affinity. The paper was acclaimed by geoscientists throughout the World.

Geological environment of the fossil-bearing rocks and ecology of the animals that lived and died in the Conception Sea, were described by Misra in two of his subsequent papers published in the Bulletin of the Geological Society of America in 1971 and in the Journal of the Geological Society of India in 1981 respectively. He intends to publish his thesis of historical importance in the near future. He still has the original fossil bearing rock samples and numerous casts of the fossils with him. Those interested are free to contact regarding meaningful academic use of the specimens.In 1987, a five kilometer stretch of the coast was declared an ecological reserve to protect the fossils.

Some papers published by Shiva Balak Misra on this subject are as follows :

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MISRA, S.B.,(2010)
Origin and Growth of Ediacaran Fauna at Mistaken Point Journal of Palaeontological Society of India v.55(2), pp.177-182.

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MISRA, S.B.,(2010)
Origin, Habitat and Life Style of Ediacaran Mistaken Point Fauna: A Re-Interpretation International Conference and Field Meeting on Precambrian Life, Centre of Advanced Study in Geology, Lucknow, India.

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MISRA, S.B.,(1969a)
Geology of Biscay Bay-Cape Race area, Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland. M.S.Thesis, Memorial University, Newfoundland. Canada, p.139.




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ANDERSON M.M..& MISRA S.B., (1968)
Fossils found in pre-Cambrian Conception Group of Southeastern Newfoundland. Nature, v.220, no.5168, pp.680-681.



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ANDERSON, M.M..& MISRA S.B., (1969)
Criteria for recognizing pre-Cambrian fossils. Nature, Vol. 223, No. 5210, p. 1076, 1969.



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MISRA, S.B., (1969b)
Late Precambrian(?) fossils from southeastern Newfoundland. Geol. Soc. America Bull., v.80,pp.2133-2140.



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MISRA, S.B.,(1971)
Stratigraphy and Depositional History of Late Precambrian Coelenterate-bearing rocks, Southeastern Newfoundland. Geol. Soc. America Bull.,v.82, pp.979-988.



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MISRA, S.B., (1981)
Depositional Environment of the Late Precambrian Fossil-Bearing rocks of Southeastern Newfoundland, Canada. Journal of the Geological Society of India, Vol.22,No.8,1981.
   

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