We visit Fisk Quarry and Goodsell Ridge on Isle la Motte, a few miles from our vacation cottage, where we see 480 million-year-old fossils. I still can't quite wrap my mind around the following information from a Lake Champlain Committee article (boldface mine):
Imagine sitting in a lounge chair with your feet in the water looking out over a tropical sea. The sun blazes away and the reefs around you teem with life. There was a time, nearly half a billion years ago, when the area we now call Lake Champlain hosted such an environment. This was before life existed on land, before the bedrock of the region had even formed.
At the time, the continental plate upon which Lake Champlain sits today was located in the lower latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere. Carbon dioxide levels exceeded today’s levels by 14 to 16 percent, and the earth was so warm that practically no ice existed. As a result, sea levels were much higher and the continental shelf was covered by a shallow arm of the Iapetus Ocean. In this arm, some of the world’s earliest reefs developed.
Today, most biotic reefs are formed by coral, but at the time of the original reefs, corals had not yet evolved. The first reef builders were instead small branching organisms called bryozoans. Later in time, large cabbage-like stromatoporoids (related to present-day sea sponges) dominated. Over time, other organisms came to occupy the reefs along with the stromatoporoids including the first corals, though corals never dominated these early reefs. “These structures represent a pivotal moment in the evolution of life on earth, because they are the oldest known, multi-organism constructions on the planet.”
For three days I have been playing with collage, paint markers, acrylics, stencils, pencils, and more, enjoying what I think of as mark-making—until now when I realize I have been layering small branching bryozoans and large cabbage-like stromatoporoids, building an older-than-time reef right here on a piece of drawing paper on a picnic table in front of a cottage in Vermont near the border of Canada.
|work in progress|
18x24"; mixed media on drawing paper