- A 310-million-year-old tree is one of several fossils on display at Toronto’s Dawn of Life gallery.
An ancient tree that began its modern journey after falling off a cliff in Nova Scotia is now on display in a new gallery in one of the country’s busiest museums, a piece from the story of life on Earth.
The Dawn of Life exhibition opened this month at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, bringing together a one-of-a-kind collection of fossils from UNESCO world heritage sites across the country.
One of these fossils is an irregular column discovered at the Joggins, N.S. Fossil cliffs. It’s a fossilized tree from the Carboniferous period when the cliffs that now line the Bay of Fundy were an equatorial swamp in the heart of Pangea, the supercontinent.
The 310-million-year-old tree is now part of a permanent exhibit that traces life’s origins four billion years ago to the appearance of the first dinosaurs and mammals around 200 million years ago.
“You’ll find sites that speak well to fossils all over Canada,” said Jordan LeBlanc, director of operations at the Joggins Fossil Institute. “I love that we’re also represented there Joggins is represented with the best.”
The Dawn of Life gallery uses Canada’s unusually high proportion of UNESCO world heritage sites Canada is the only country with four to trace life from its earliest known evidence.
“This is something that is usually neglected in museums all over the world,” said Jean-Bernard Caron, the ROM’s Richard M. Ivey Curator of Invertebrate Palaeontology.
It all starts with a single-celled organism called LUCA, discovered in Quebec about four billion years ago. “When you look at this piece, you realize how old life is and how we are all related to a single ancestor,” Caron said.
From there, the gallery moves through fossils from UNESCO sites in Canada, from the early organisms discovered at Mistaken Point in Newfoundland. Where traces of some of the first examples of multicellular life forms have been found, to the Burgess Shale in British Columbia. Which tells the story of the origin of animals during the Cambrian explosion.
Source: CBC News
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