Behavioral analysis of trace fossils at the Ediacaran-Cambrian boundary

Regions: Sahtu Settlement Area

Tags: physical sciences, geology, fossils, paleontology

Principal Investigator: Narbonne, Guy (13)
Licence Number: 15062
Organization: Queen's University
Licenced Year(s): 2013 2012
Issued: May 22, 2012
Project Team: Guy Narbonne (Research Supervisor, Queen's University), Calla Carbone (Researcher, Queen's University), Field Assistant (Queen's University)

Objective(s): To study fossils in order to elucidate the evolution of muscles and brains in early animals and the simple communities these animals formed.

Project Description: The world’s earliest animals appeared in the Ediacaran Period about 580 million years ago, and soft worm-like animals capable of movement appeared suddenly worldwide 555 million years ago. Previous studies (Narbonne and Aitken, Palaeontology, 1990; MacNaughton and Narbonne, Palaios, 1999; Narbonne, The Rise of Animals, 2007) have shown that these fossils are especially well represented in the Mackenzie Mountains of NWT Canada. This research team will study these fossils in order to elucidate the evolution of muscles and brains in early animals and the simple communities these animals formed.

The team’s camp will consist of one small sleeping tent per person plus one tent for cooking (total of four small tents). Every day, the team will walk from this tent camp to nearby rock sections to search for fossils. The reseachers will measure the fossils with a ruler, photograph them, and write descriptions of them in a notebook. A few large specimens will be collected to be analyzed using computers in the lab at Queen’s University.

This work is remote and done on a scientific shoestring budget. The principal contribution to the communities is in the colour poster and other information provided at the end of the summer and as the papers are published over the years. This information can be used by the community to promote tourism, understand local geology, or teach local children about fossils.

The researchers will send a copy of Calla Carbone’s completed thesis and all resultant scientific papers to Aurora Research Institute. They will also send copies of all the papers we write to each of the community contact groups. As an added benefit, at the end of each summer the group will prepare a full-size poster describing the scientific discoveries (with colour illustrations and language that is easy to understand) and send a copy to the Norman Wells Museum, all of the community contact groups, and the local schools in Tulita and Norman Wells.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 1, 2012 to August 10, 2012.