Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Happy 150 years to the Origin of Species!

You may be surprised to learn that the Bay of Fundy is home to some of the most significant scientific discoveries which supported Charles Darwin's theory on evolution.

Darwin was an English naturalist who presented evidence that all species have evolved over time from common ancestors, through the process he termed "natural selection". In 1859, he introduced the concept of it as a principal mechanism of evolution in his book On the Origin of Species. At the time, no one knew the age of the Earth or of milestones in our planet's history.

2009 marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection, in which the Joggins Fossil Cliffs are referenced. Charles Darwin drew on the completeness of exposure at Joggins and the recurrence of the fossil forests to illustrate that the fossil record was inherently incomplete. Darwin argued that even in the unrivaled exposures at Joggins, the intervening beds theoretically could hide “the fine intermediary gradations which must on my theory have existed between them,” with the result that the fossil record generally gives the misleading appearance of “abrupt, though perhaps very slight, changes of form".

The Joggins Fossil Cliffs (Nova Scotia side of Bay of Fundy) were made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO last year. The cliffs are referred to as a "Coal-Age Galapagos" and are the best place in the world to see fossils from this period.

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