Preprint Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

A ‘Giant Microfossil’ from the Gunflint Chert and its Implications for Fungal and Eukaryote Origins

Version 1 : Received: 23 September 2019 / Approved: 26 September 2019 / Online: 26 September 2019 (00:48:56 CEST)

How to cite: McMenamin, M.A.S.; Curtis-Hill, A.; Rabinow, S.; Martin, K.; Treloar, D. A ‘Giant Microfossil’ from the Gunflint Chert and its Implications for Fungal and Eukaryote Origins. Preprints 2019, 2019090287 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201909.0287.v1). McMenamin, M.A.S.; Curtis-Hill, A.; Rabinow, S.; Martin, K.; Treloar, D. A ‘Giant Microfossil’ from the Gunflint Chert and its Implications for Fungal and Eukaryote Origins. Preprints 2019, 2019090287 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201909.0287.v1).

Abstract

We report here a giant microfossil resembling the conidium of an ascomycete fungus (cf. Alternaria alternata). The specimen is preserved in stromatolitic black chert of the Gunflint Iron Formation (Paleoproterozoic Eon, Orosirian Period, ca. 1.9-2.0 Ga) of southern Ontario, Canada, and the rock that provided the thin section may have been collected by Elso Barghoorn as part of the original discovery of the Gunflint microbiota. The large size of the fossil sets it apart from other, tiny by comparison, Gunflint microfossils. The fossil is 200 microns in length and has cross walls. Individual cells are 30-46 microns in greatest dimension. The apical ‘spore’ is cap-shaped, and has partly separated from the rest of the structure. Cloulicaria gunflintensis gen. nov. sp. nov. may provide early evidence for eukaryotes (fungi) in the fossil record, and may also represent the earliest evidence for asexual reproduction in a eukaryote by means of mitospores.

Subject Areas

Gunflint Chert; stromatolites; black chert; origin of eukaryotes; evolution of fungi; Precambrian microfossils

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