A Tiny Discovery

Scanning electron microscope image of a tiny new species of Precambrian fossil alga from Nevada. The entire fossil is a millimeter wide.
Jun. 6, 2014

Precambrian rocks usually do not contain fossils—these rocks were deposited before multicellular organisms were abundant and diverse and before animals had shells. However, paleontologists working in a remote region of Nevada have discovered an assemblage of exquisitely preserved Precambrian fossils.

In a recently published paper in the Journal of Paleontology, UNLV paleontologist Steve Rowland and alumna Margarita Rodriguez ('12 BS Geology), describe a new species of alga, the first from these newly discovered fossils to be formally described and named. The fossil is just a millimeter wide — the thickness of a dime — with segmented branches that are each about the diameter of a human hair.

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