Grypania spiralis – Precambrian – Michigan

Name:  Grypania spiralis

Age:  Precambrian  Eon

Anamikean Era

2.2 billion years

Unit : Negaunee Iron Formation

Site:  Palmer, Michigan

Collection:  Potomac Museum Group (nonaccessioned specimen)

 

 

This is a specimen of 2.2 billion-year-old Grypania spiralis – the oldest known eukaryotic (multicellular) organism and one of the rarest fossils on Earth.  It is described as filaments of red algae from the middle Precambrian iron formations in upper Michigan (see Science, July 10, 1992, pp 232-235).  

 

Grypania spiralis is by far the oldest known multicellular organism. All other Precambrian specimens of this age are prokaryotes (simple, single-celled organisms that lack a cellular nucleus) – such as stromatolites.   The discovery of Grypania in the 1980’s caused great excitement in the world of paleontology because these organisms are over 1 billion years older than the next-closest-aged eukaryote. This singularly unique anomalous occurrence of early eukaryotes continues to confound paleontologists today. 

 

The development of eukaryotes (that is, cells which contain a nucleus) is one of the fundamental ‘great leaps forward’ in the evolution of life.  From this template all other complex life became possible. Grypania is a cornerstone in this field of research.

 

Potomac Museum Group collected these rare specimens in the late 1980’s as a paleontological rescue operation in an active iron mine in Michigan.  They are known from only one small location in a single mine which we were allowed to access for a very brief amount of time.  The area has since been lost to mining activity.  The PMG specimens – numbering only a few dozen pieces – represent the bulk of what is known of these unique organisms.  Most of the specimens are hand size or smaller. 

 

This one, and a few others similar to it, were recently found in the field collections among stratigraphic samples taken in the mine during the excavation.  Most of the stratigraphic samples were ‘float’ pieces that never received an accession number for the PMG collections.  It therefore has been released for sale.  Complete documentation will accompany the specimen.

 

Grypania spiralis, RAREST OF RARE, EARLY LIFE – Rare Early Life Fossil

 

Specimen 1

Item number: 320343176209

Winning bid: US $406.51 

Ended: Mar-02-09 06:31:37 PST

Winning bidder: u***d ( 85)  

Seller:  arthrodire ( 52

 This piece has two sides – part and counterpart – each measuring approximately 5 x 2.25 inches.  Such complete specimens including both sides are very uncommon in these specimens chiefly because the field work was so rushed we had no way to locate the fossiliferous beds properly.  It is only by chance that some of them have both sides.   The primary side has many typical Grypania curls and partial sections.  The secondary side has faint outlines of the fossils on the primary side.  There are no reconstructions or enhancements in this specimen.  And no repairs.

 

Specimen 2

Item number: 320343176729

Winning bid:

US $204.01 

Ended: Mar-02-09 06:34:45 PST

Winning bidder: a***r ( 124

Seller:  arthrodire ( 52

This piece has two sides – part and counterpart – each measuring approximately 2.5 x 1.25 inches.  Such complete specimens including both sides are very uncommon in these specimens chiefly because the field work was so rushed we had no way to locate the fossiliferous beds properly.  It is only by chance that some of them have both sides.   The primary side has many typical Grypania curls and partial sections.  The secondary side has faint outlines of the fossils on the primary side.  There are no reconstructions or enhancements in this specimen.  The secondary side was broken into several pieces and has been professionally repaired in the lab.

 

Specimen 3

Item number: 320343177856

Winning bid: US $144.01 

Ended: Mar-02-09 06:41:20 PST

Winning bidder: 0***f ( 636

 Seller:  arthrodire ( 52

This piece has two sides – part and counterpart – each measuring approximately 2.5 x 1.25 inches.  Such complete specimens including both sides are very uncommon in these specimens chiefly because the field work was so rushed we had no way to locate the fossiliferous beds properly.  It is only by chance that some of them have both sides.   The primary side has many typical Grypania curls and partial sections.  The secondary side has faint outlines of the fossils on the primary side.  There are no reconstructions or enhancements in this specimen.  And no repairs

One Response to Grypania spiralis – Precambrian – Michigan

  1. Hey, nice tips. I’ll buy a glass of beer to that man from that forum who told me to visit your blog🙂

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