In a piece of Newfoundland's rugged sea
coast on the southeastern tip of the Avalon Peninsula are the impressions of
marine creatures that lived more than 565 million years ago. These are the
oldest multi celled fossils in North America and the only deepwater marine
fossils of this age found anywhere in the world. Mistaken Point is one of
the most important fossil sites of any kind in Canada.
This site, which is internationally important for understanding the history of the earth and of life on it., is protected mainly for the use of scientists and educators. In the past, many of the fossils have been cut from the rocks and taken away.
This is now prohibited under the protection of the Wilderness and Ecological Reserves Act. Mistaken Point was proclaimed an Ecological Reserve in July, 1987.
The Fossils - Most animal fossils show only the hard parts of the previously living animal. The soft parts usually disappear as the are crushed by the buildup of mud and sand. One of the features of Mistaken Point that makes it so unique is that many of the creatures were soft bodied. They died when fine volcanic ash gently settled over them. The present fossils are impressions the bodies made in the ash before they decayed. Although there are no animals alive today like those at Mistaken Point, their closest relatives would be jellyfish and sea anemones. Some of them look rather like ferns that clung to the bottom with a structure called a "hold fast". Others may have floated free, they range size from a few cm to 25 to 30 cm.
Fossils of a similar age are found in a few other locations - notably Russia and Australia. But the Mistaken Point site is unique because it is the only site that contains about 20 different kinds of animals that lived in deep water.
Season: Jan 1 - Dec 31
Location: Off Route 10, 16 kms southwest of Portugal Cove South
33 Reid's Lane
Deer Lake, NL, A8A 2A3