Progressive behavioural innovation in Ediacaran and Cambrian burrowing animals from the Mackenzie Mountains (NWT, Canada)

Regions: Sahtu Settlement Area

Tags: physical sciences, fossils, paleontology, evolution, organisms

Principal Investigator: Narbonne, Guy (13)
Licence Number: 15232
Organization: Queen's University
Licenced Year(s): 2013 2012
Issued: Apr 24, 2013
Project Team: Calla Carbone (Field assistant, Queen's University)

Objective(s): To study fossils of worm-like animals in the Ediacaran period about 580 million years ago. Study of these fossils will clarify the evolution of feeding mechanisms throughout this period of time.

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. The 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 Northwestern Canada. Last season's fieldwork allowed the research team to take a closer look at the burrowing organisms and how they moved through the sediment in space and time. Since last season's fieldwork provided intriguing information about these organisms, the research team would like to return to one of our field sites for some more extensive research. Further research in this area will clarify the evolution of feeding mechanisms throughout this period of time.


The camp will consist of one sleeping tent per person plus one tent for cooking (3 tents total). Research involves hiking daily from the campsite to the nearby fossil-bearing sections. Fossils will be photographed, measured with a ruler, and described in field notebooks. A few specimens will be collected for more detailed analysis at Queen's University.


The principal contribution to the communities is in the summary of work, colour poster, and additional information that the research team provides at the end of the summer 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 research team 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 that they 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 21, 2013 to July 31, 2013.