Polished Gunflint Stromatolites from Canada

Stromatolites (chertized)

Geological Time: Paleoproterozoic (1.9 Billion Years Old)

Size: 160 mm by 170 mm

Fossil Site: Gunflint Formation, Ontario, Canada

This stromatolite is from the Gunflint Formation, a Paleoproterozoic chemical-clastic sedimentary assemblage outcropping to the immediate northwest of Lake Superior that became famous in 1954 for containing the oldest fossil assemblage known at that time. Older microfossils have since been discovered, but the Gunflint prokaryotes remain one of the most diverse Precambrian fossil communities. In the March 7, 2002 issue of Nature (Volume 406), J.W. Schopf, famous for his role in the discovery of Domain of Life Archaea, reported discovery of cellular remains of prokaryotic cells in the Gunflint stromatolites (combining optically discernible morphology with analyses of chemical composition using laser-Raman spectroscopic imagery). His results remain controversial, however. At about the same time, the age was measured at 1.9 billion years. Notice the veins of fool's gold in the specimen.

Barghoorn, E.S. and Tyler, S.A., 1965: Microorganisms from the Gunflint Chert. Science, vol. 147, p. 563-577.
Schopf, J.W., 1999: Cradle of Life: The Discovery of Earth's Earliest Fossils. Princeton University Press.

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