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World Heritage: Canada

Mistaken Point

Newfoundland and Labrador


 

Name of country: CANADA

List drawn up by:
Parks Canada Agency
25 Eddy Street
Gatineau (Quebec) K1A 0M5

Date: March 2004

NAME OF PROPERTY

MISTAKEN POINT

GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR 46,62 ° N – 53,17 ° W

DESCRIPTION:

Located on the rugged coastline of the Avalon Peninsula, Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve contains the oldest evidence known of early multi-cellular life on the planet. Here, Ediacaran fossils of an age estimated at 560-575 million years have been found in the rocks of the ecological reserve. Thirty species of soft-bodied animals have been preserved in situ by volcanic ash falls that covered the sea floor. Many thousands of complete specimens have been preserved on exposed bedding surfaces, providing the earliest and most complete record knowing of Eliacaran multi-cellular life. The fossils at Mistaken Point provide a window into the early colonization of the deep-sea floor.

JUSTIFICATION OF "OUTSTANDING UNIVERSAL VALUE"

Criterion met:

(viii) Mistaken Point is the location of the most outstanding fossil site known that displays the earliest multi-cellular forms of life on the planet.

Assurances of authenticity and/or integrity:

The fossil site is contained within Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve with a total size of 565 ha. Regulations and a management plan are in place.

Comparison with other similar properties:

The site is not comparable to other World Heritage Sites, as no other site contains fossils of Ediacaran age. The Burgess Shale fossil site located in the existing Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site is of the Cambrian Period, and the existing Miguasha Park World Heritage Site is Devonian. The proposed Tentative List fossil locality at Joggins is from the Carboniferous Period. None of the other Ediacaran fossil sites found in Australia, Russia and Namibia are as ancient or as well preserved as those of Mistaken Point. The site was identified in the Global Overview of Potential World Heritage Fossil Sites produced by Prof. R. Wells for IUCN in 1994.