Charnia

Name: Charnia ‭(‬named after the Charnwood forest in England where the frist specimens were found‭)‬.
Phonetic: Char-ne-ah.
Named By: Trevor D.‭ ‬Ford‭ ‬-‭ ‬1958.
Synonyms: Glassnerina,‭ ‬Rangea grandis,‭ ‬Rangea sibirica.
Classification: Petalonamae.
Species: C,‭ ‬masoni‭ (‬type‭)‬,‭ ‬C.‭ ‬grandis,‭ ‬C.‭ ‬siberica.
Diet: Possibly absorbed nutrients from water.
Size: Holotype specimen roughly about‭ ‬19‭ ‬centimetres long,‭ ‬with many other specimens of comparable size.‭ ‬However largest recorded individuals from Newfoundland approach up to‭ ‬2‭ ‬meters in length.
Known locations: Australia.‭ ‬Canada.‭ ‬England.‭ ‬Russia.
Time period: Ediacaran,‭ ‬roughly‭ ‬575-544‭ ‬million years ago.
Fossil representation: Numerous specimens,‭ ‬many of which are complete.

       The first ever fossil of Charnia was found in England.‭ ‬It seems that the first time this fossil was recorded was in‭ ‬1956‭ ‬when a‭ ‬15‭ ‬year old schoolgirl named Tina Ford reported seeing the fossil to her geography teacher.‭ ‬However at the time it was established‭ ‘‬fact‭’ ‬that the rocks in the Charnwood forest were far too old to have fossils in them,‭ ‬and were laid down before animals existed,‭ ‬and hence the teacher dismissed Tina’s claims of the fossil.‭ ‬Then a year later in‭ ‬1957,‭ ‬a schoolboy named Roger Mason‭ (‬who would go into a career in geology‭) ‬brought the specimen to the attention of scientists,‭ ‬and in‭ ‬1958‭ ‬the fossil was identified and named as a genus of Trevor Ford in‭ ‬1958.
       Charnia without doubt is one of the oldest lifeforms that we know about that once lived on our planet.‭ ‬Though resembling a frond of a fern,‭ ‬as well as perceived to be an alga or even a sea pen when in the early days of its study,‭ ‬the majority of modern day researchers are certain that Charnia was more likely a different kind of lifeform,‭ ‬though one unlike anything we currently know about today,‭ ‬as well as a member of a group that at this time does not seem to have had any surviving descendants.‭
       The discovery of Charnia marked the first time that a living organism was found in rocks that that were older than the Cambrian period.‭ ‬Before this discovery it was unthinkable by scientists at the time that fossils could be found in rocks that were then loosely termed as Precambrian.‭ ‬In addition to this there also so far does not seem to have been any survival of Charnia beyond the Ediacaran period.‭ ‬Unless living examples are‭ ‬one day discovered in future deep sea exploration,‭ ‬then it would seem that Charnia represents an evolutionary dead end.
       There is much still to learn about how Charnia lived.‭ ‬Analysis of fossil beds where Charnia has been found has led to many people concluding that Charnia lived in very deep water,‭ ‬so deep in fact that sunlight would have been unable to reach down that far.‭ ‬This would make photosynthesis impossible at such depths,‭ ‬and is one of the main arguments supporting the idea that Charnia was not a plant.‭ ‬Charnia does not seem to have been like known animal groups either however,‭ ‬which makes its position in current models of the tree of life uncertain.‭ ‬It seems that the fern-like appearance of Charnia is a result of a very simple method of growth where a latticework of tissues would grow in repeating patens,‭ ‬leading to the establishment of the uniform appearance.‭ ‬As far as feeding goes,‭ ‬most researchers agree that Charnia probably absorbed nutrients from the water around it,‭ ‬but the exact method of absorption is still currently a matter of debate amongst researchers.

Further reading
-‭ ‬Pre-Cambrian fossils from Charnwood Forest.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society‭ ‬31‭(‬3‭)‬:211-217.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Trevor D.‭ ‬Ford‭ ‬-‭ ‬1958.
-‭ ‬First occurrence of the Ediacaran fossil Charnia from the southern hemisphere.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Alcheringa‭ ‬22‭ (‬3/4‭)‬:‭ ‬315‭–‬316.‭ ‬-‭ ‬C.‭ ‬Nedin‭ & ‬R.‭ ‬J.‭ ‬F.‭ ‬Jenkins‭ ‬-‭ ‬1998.
-‭ ‬Morphology and taphonomy of an Ediacaran frond:‭ ‬Charnia from the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Geological Society,‭ ‬London,‭ ‬Special Publications‭ ‬286‭ (‬1‭)‬:‭ ‬237‭–‬257.‭ ‬-‭ ‬M.‭ ‬Laflamme,‭ ‬G.‭ ‬M.‭ ‬Narbonne,‭ ‬C.‭ ‬Greentree‭ & ‬M.‭ ‬M.‭ ‬Anderson‭ ‬-‭ ‬2007.
-‭ ‬Charnia and sea pens are poles apart.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Journal of Geological Society‭ ‬164‭ (‬1‭)‬:‭ ‬49.‭ ‬-‭ ‬J.‭ ‬B.‭ ‬Antcliffe,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬D.‭ ‬Brasier‭ ‬-‭ ‬2007.
-‭ ‬Charnia at‭ ‬50:‭ ‬Developmental Models for Ediacaran Fronds.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Palaeontology‭ ‬51‭ (‬1‭)‬:‭ ‬11‭–‬26.‭ ‬-‭ ‬J.‭ ‬B.‭ ‬Antcliffe,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬D.‭ ‬Brasier‭ ‬-‭ ‬2008.



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