Primeval 6 – Ediacaran Period

 

As the Earth thawed from the Marinoan glaciation around 575 million years ago, a plethora of new species appeared during a period called the Avalonian Explosion. These species are known as the Ediacaran fossils, and they seem to have flourished until the cusp of the Cambrian Period 542 million years ago when the characteristic communities of fossils vanished, leaving only curious fragments of once-thriving ecosystems.(1)S. Conway Morris (1993) “Ediacaran-like fossils in Cambrian Burgess Shale–type faunas of North America” Palaeontology, Volume 36, Number 31–0239, Pages 593–635 As these enigmatic organisms seem to have left no descendants of their strange forms, they might be seen as a “failed experiment” in multi-cellular life, with later multi-cellular life evolving independently from unrelated single-celled organisms.(2)Guy Narbonne (June 2006) “The Origin and Early Evolution of Animals” Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering

Earth 560 Million Years Ago

Earth 560 Million Years Ago

Multiple hypotheses exist to explain the disappearance of these creatures, including preservation bias, a changing environment, the advent of predators and competition from other life-forms. Determining where Ediacara organisms fit in the tree of life has proven challenging; it is not even established that they were animals. Some scientists have suggested that they were lichens (fungus-alga symbionts), algae, protists known as foraminifera, fungi, or microbial colonies, or some hypothetical intermediates between plants and animals.(3)M. F. Glaessner (1984) The Dawn of Animal Life: A Biohistorical Study There also does not appear to be a connection to the earlier Francevillian biota of the Huronian Glaciation. These creatures were so alien compared to modern lifeforms, that in 1998 noted geology professor Mark McMenamin claimed that Ediacarans did not possess an embryonic stage, and thus could not be animals. He believed that they independently evolved a nervous system and brains, meaning that

…the path toward intelligent life was embarked upon more than once on this planet.- Mark McMenamin(4)Mark McMenamin (1998) The Garden of Ediacara. Columbia University Press

This could have been another agricultural colony established by an extraterrestrial civilization, however it would require that this civilization’s biology be similar enough to the civilization that caused the Great Oxidization that they could exist in compatible biospheres. This event was around 1.5 billion years after the Great Oxidization, and it is difficult to imagine a civilization lasting 1.5 billion years. It is possible that during that time the mother-civilization could have colonized many worlds, and the later colonists could have been something that evolved on one of those colony worlds.

ediacaran-life

Ediacaran Life

In 1852 a strange broken metal pot was recovered from an explosive excavation in Dorchester, Massachusetts (USA). According to text reprinted from the local newspaper Boston Transcript, in the June 5, 1852 edition of Scientific American,(5) Scientific American (June 5, 1852) “A Relic of a By-Gone Age.” Scientific American, Volume 7, Number 38, Page 298 the two pieces were found loose among debris thrown out by the explosion. The Roxbury Conglomerate, from which this pot is alleged to have come, has been dated as having accumulated between 570 and 593 million years ago and therefore during the Ediacaran Period.(6)M. D. Thompson et al. (2007) “Late Neoproterozoic paleogeography of the Southeastern New England Avalon Zone: Insights from U-Pb geochronology and paleomagnetism.” Geological Society of America Bulletin, Volume 119, Number 5/6, Pages 681-696 It accumulated at the bottom of a deep rift basin, which was filled with marine water, within submarine fan and slope environments.(7)A. D. Socci (1990) “Stratigraphic implications of facies within the Boston Basin” in A. D. Socci et al editors, “Geology of the Composite Avalon Terrane of Southern New England,” Geological Society of America, Pages 55-74

The bell-shaped vessel was described as being about 4.5 inches (11.5 cm) high, 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) in diameter at the base and 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) in diameter at the top. The body of this object was said to resemble zinc alloyed with silver. It reportedly exhibited floral designs on its side and a wreath or vine design around its lower part, which were both inlaid with silver. The primary source of information about this object, did not provide a picture of the pot. In the 1980s a photograph of a 19th-century Indian pipe holder was published with a story of the pot which has since led to the pot being dismissed as a 19th-century Indian pipe holder. Where the photograph came from is unknown, as it is a photograph of an intact object, and the pot was described as broken. If this was an artificial object from the Ediacaran Period, it would indicate that the planet was being visited by intelligent creatures at that time.

References   [ + ]

1. S. Conway Morris (1993) “Ediacaran-like fossils in Cambrian Burgess Shale–type faunas of North America” Palaeontology, Volume 36, Number 31–0239, Pages 593–635
2. Guy Narbonne (June 2006) “The Origin and Early Evolution of Animals” Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering
3. M. F. Glaessner (1984) The Dawn of Animal Life: A Biohistorical Study
4. Mark McMenamin (1998) The Garden of Ediacara. Columbia University Press
5. Scientific American (June 5, 1852) “A Relic of a By-Gone Age.” Scientific American, Volume 7, Number 38, Page 298
6. M. D. Thompson et al. (2007) “Late Neoproterozoic paleogeography of the Southeastern New England Avalon Zone: Insights from U-Pb geochronology and paleomagnetism.” Geological Society of America Bulletin, Volume 119, Number 5/6, Pages 681-696
7. A. D. Socci (1990) “Stratigraphic implications of facies within the Boston Basin” in A. D. Socci et al editors, “Geology of the Composite Avalon Terrane of Southern New England,” Geological Society of America, Pages 55-74