Abstract

Newly discovered fronds of the Ediacaran index fossil Charnia from the Drook Formation of southeastern Newfoundland are the oldest large, architecturally complex fossils known anywhere. Two species are present: Charnia masoni, originally described from Charnwood Forest in central England and now known worldwide, may have ranged through as much as 30 m.y. of Ediacaran time, and C. wardi sp. nov., a new species of Charnia that consists of slender fronds to nearly 2 m in length, is the longest Ediacaran fossil yet described anywhere. These fossils, which are present midway between the glacial diamictites of the Gaskiers Formation (ca. 595 Ma) and the classic Ediacaran assemblage of the Mistaken Point Formation (565 ± 3 Ma) 1500 m higher in the same section, provide our first glimpse of complex megascopic life after the meltdown of the “snowball Earth” glaciers.

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