Abstract

We report a diverse assemblage of trace fossils from the Lower(?) Cambrian High Head member of the Church Point Formation near Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Based on the presence of sharp-based beds, load casts, and flute casts, along with other sedimentological criteria, the strata are interpreted to have a turbidite origin. Other characteristics, including wrinkle structures and high fidelity of trace-fossil preservation, suggest that the inter-episode biotope was influenced by the presence of biomats. The trace-fossil assemblage includes (in approximate order of abundance) Planolites, Helminthopsis, Oldhamia, Chondrites, Gordia, Cladichnus, Psammichnites gigas, Treptichnus, Phycodes, Lorenzinia, Palaeophycus, and Teichichnus. Trace fossils are increasingly abundant upwards in the section, but they are ultimately mitigated by an increase in (inferred) sedimentation rates. The trace-fossil assemblage, which bears many similarities to other Lower Cambrian locales (e.g., Puncoviscana Formation of northwest Argentina, Chapel Island Formation of southeastern Newfoundland), and the distribution of ichnofossils strongly support an earliest Cambrian age for the studied strata. More importantly, evolutionary trends can be interpreted from the trace-fossil assemblage, namely (1) an increase in size and diversity of animals in deep water; (2) an expansion of motile strategies used to coexist with biomats; and, (3) increasingly complex mining strategies below the sediment-biomat interface.

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