Geological Science and Engineering

Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering
Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering

Faculty and Alumni in National Geographic


Dr. Guy Narbonne and two of his past graduate students, Calla Carbone, BSc’11, MSc’14, and Marc Laflamme, PhD'08, are referenced in the March Issue of National Geographic. The article titled, "When Life Got Complicated", looks at how life on Earth exploded from tiny, simple organisms, to large, complex creatures .

Dr. Narbonne and his work on trace fossils with Calla are cited here:

"Guy Narbonne, at Queen’s University in Ontario, largely agrees with the importance of burrowing. But together with his graduate student Calla Carbone, he has taken Wormworld a step further. Based on careful analysis of trace fossils from the late Ediacaran and the early Cambrian, Narbonne and Carbone noticed a significant difference in how those wormy creatures turned. By the early Cambrian, burrowing animals became more systematic in their searches for food, as well as more muscled. They ranged more efficiently, tracking the resources better and crossing their own tracks less. “It reflects the evolution of braininess,” Narbonne told me. “Our interpretation,” he added, “is that the Cambrian explosion is when behavior became coded on the genome.” They titled that paper, “When Life Got Smart.”"

Marc Laflamme is mentioned several times throughout the article, including:

"At the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve, established by the provincial government to protect the fossil beds, we took a gravel road to a broken sea bank and climbed down. Laflamme pointed to a single slab of smooth, purplish gray rock, tilted at about 30 degrees. An image in the stone, like an intricate shadow, suggested the skeleton of a snake, a repeating pattern of ribs and spine, about three feet long. But there was no skeleton here, indeed no bone at all—only the imprint of a soft-bodied creature, dead and buried on the sea bottom a very, very long time ago. It didn’t swim; it didn’t crawl. It couldn’t have lived like any organism alive today. It belonged to a more obscure period, inhabited by cryptic, otherworldly creatures that most people don’t realize ever existed. “This is the first time that life got big,” Laflamme told me as we knelt on the rock."

A large 2m x 2m cast of the Mistaken Point fossil surface that is representative of the fossils that Marc worked on for his Ph.D. can be found in the Miller Museum of Geology. The cast is pictured below.

The full article can be found online, on the National Geographic website.