Virtual Museum of Canada

Miguasha : From water to land (The Miguasha National Park)

In search of our origins

The quest to understand the origin of our species and the world around us has been one of the foremost preoccupations of humanity since ancient times.Bothriolepis canadensismagnifying(76 kb) From this need to understand, from this search for the truth, arose the study of philosophy among the Greeks more than 2,000 years ago. But it would take until the time of Galileo in the 1500’s for science to begin detaching itself from philosophy, and as scholars became aware that the Earth is not the centre of the Universe, they began to ponder its true history. Naturally, they desired to know its age and sought out a reliable record that would bear witness to the passage of time. This quest began in the 17th century and continued until it was answered in the 19th century – a revolutionary era for the natural and life sciences. At long last, the true nature of fossils as witnesses to past life was revealed, and the scene was set for the emergence of the theory of evolution.

Searching for our originsmagnifying(60 kb)The quest for our origins continues today in paleontology and a number of other scientific disciplines. The appearance of the first lineages from which the human race would later rise dates back about seven million years... But the appearance of primitive land-dwelling vertebrates – the creatures that began this epic evolutionary journey – stretches even further back, to the time they first crawled out of their watery world several hundred million years ago...

Bothriolepis canadensis

Title: Bothriolepis canadensis
Author: Jean-Pierre Sylvestre
Sources: Parc national de Miguasha
Year: 1997

Bothriolepis canadensis – an abundant fossil fish in the Miguasha cliff.

Searching for our origins

Title: Searching for our origins
Author: Illustration by Éric Godin
Sources: Parc national de Miguasha
Year: Not available

The science of paleontology holds the key to unlocking the secrets of our ancient origins. For more than 100 years, fossils in the cliff at the Parc national de Miguasha have contributed to this quest by providing invaluable insight into the origin of land-dwelling vertebrates during the Devonian Period.