Mistaken Point, Newfoundland is part of the Avalon Peninsula, an ancient landmass from Africa that smashed into eastern North America. This rugged outcrop carried petrified remains of the oldest animal fossils in the world.

Evidence of life appeared just before the Cambrian period, over a half billion years ago. This remote place was once a thriving sea floor and home to a community of large, boneless marine creatures who lived and died at the same location.

A chain of volcanic islands existed within the sea and when they erupted, a blanket of falling ash preserved these soft-bodied creatures, creating a snapshot of life in a much earlier age.

This geologic feature helped solve Darwin’s dilemma providing real evidence that the early Cambrian period did swarm with living creatures – just as he predicted over a century ago.

FACTS:

  • Thirty different fossil types have been found at Mistaken Point.
  • These creatures made up 85% of animal life during the early Cambrian period.
  • This experimental form of life ultimately failed, probably because these creatures were unable to compete with evolving predators.

  • The Great Lakes
    Discover the roots of a long vanished mountain range, explore the remains of an inland tropical sea and trace the story of a dramatic flood
  • The Rockies
    An ever-changing landmass, geologists are learning how the Rockies were formed and discovering what they will become.
  • The Canadian Shield
    The largest - and one of the oldest - expanses of ancient rock on the planet has riches of gold and diamonds under it's crust.
  • The Appalachians
    These fabled mountains contain a geologic puzzle, a rich legacy, and the scarcely known threat of earthquakes.
  • The Atlantic Coast
    The dramatic story of volcanic outpourings, massive rifting of continents and the bursting forth of a new ocean - the Atlantic.

A five-part series that chronicles the incredible—and surprising—history of Canada's landscape in HD.
DVD

Canada Rocks Read an excerpt from Canada Rocks, a new book by the scientific advisor to Geologic Journey, Nick Eyles.

Watch video interviews with some of the scientists featured in Geologic Journey (produced in conjunction with National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada).

Order the Geologic Journey DVD for classroom use and download Teacher Resource Materials.
The Nature of Things with David Suzuki
Cambrian period: The Cambrian Period marks an important point in the history of life on earth, about 540 million years ago. This is when most of the major groups of animals first appear in the fossil record. This event is sometimes called the "Cambrian Explosion" because of the relatively short time over which this diversity of life forms appears. Darwin's dilemma: According to his theory of evolution, Darwin believed that ‘the world swarmed with living creatures’ well before the Cambrian period over half a billion years ago. But without proof of these creatures, his theory was vulnerable to attack. Recent discovery of fossils at places like Mistaken Point, Newfoundland, prove that Darwin was right. Fossils: Fossils are the mineralized or otherwise preserved remains or traces (such as footprints) of animals, plants, and other organisms.