I have been slacking a bit (ok a lot) in getting through the 150 things about Canadian palaeo series, but I’m determined to get through 150 facts before the end of this year, while it’s still Canada’s 150th birthday year! For this post, I’m going to focus on Miguasha National Park, located in Quebec, and the 5th (and final) of Canada’s palaeontologically significant UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Starting at 118/150:
118. Located on the Gaspé Peninsula of the province of Quebec, Miguasha National Park was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 for it’s significant fossil finds.
119. It is known for being one of the best localities in the world for Devonian fossils, with fossils from the 370 million year old Escuminac Formation. Here you can find some of the best preserved, and high number of fish fossils, including lobe-finned (sarcopterygian) fishes that gave rise to the tetrapods.
120. Eusthenopteron foordi, a lobe-finned fish, is sometimes referred to as the “Prince of Miguasha”, as it is one of the most significant fossils to be found here. First discovered in 1881, over 2000 specimens have been found today. It shares a number of features in common with both fish and more derived tetrapodomorphs, making it a kind of “fish-a-pod”, representing a kind of transitional form between fish and tetrapods. Eusthenopteron is one of the earlier forms, still living fully in the seas, but sharing features with tetrapods such as internal nostrils.
121. The Devonian is known as the “Age of the Fishes”, and it’s the exceptionally well-preserved fish fossils that make Miguasha so famous. In addition to Eusthenopteron, there are also a number of other fishes including the placoderm Bothriolepis canadensis, acanthodians (spiny sharks), actinopterygians (bony fish), and many more sarcopterygian species.
122. The most primitive coelacanth or actinistian fish, Miguashaia, is found here.
123. Although relatively rare, a number of invertebrate fossils have also been found here, including crustaceans, eurypterids (sea scorpions) and annelid worms. More commonly found are trace fossils, which help to further our understanding of the diversity of invertebrate life.
124. Plant fossils are also found at Miguasha, and are typically known from 5 species. The most commonly found plant, Archaeopteris, was a tree fern, and long thought to be the earliest example of a tree.
125. Spermasporites, a plant megaspore, is one of the earliest known representatives of a seed plant. It is thought to be extremely important in understanding the origin of seed plants.
I hope you enjoyed these few facts about the Devonian UNESCO World Heritage Site Miguasha National Park! If you’re interested in more information about Miguasha, check out their website, where much of this info came from. Just 25 Canadian palaeo facts to go…