• Mary Kuna


There's more than one kind of wrinkle in time.

Trace fossils chronicle

the behaviour of organisms,

records in rock, not just of

walking, but also of





Asteriacites, snow angels made by starfish

burrowing on the sea floor. Prehistoric snail trails preserved in sandstone,

tetrapod trackways with dragging tails.

Fossils big as brachiosaur footprints or miniature as microbial mats.

Rugalichnus mclaughlinensis helps close a gap in the fossil record; rugalichnus, loosely translated, is “wrinkle trace.” This aquatic bacteria has formed

concentric rings in rock, a stone-in-a-stream ripple effect

frozen in time

for hundreds of millions of years. Take only pictures, leave only footprints, they say. Digital breadcrumbs

from my explorations in

Rockwood Park don’t garner likes;

a clumsy thumb in the frame

mars a sunset, in obligatory selfies

I often squint and rarely smile.

Despite my dainty size five feet,

I will not be tracked by shedding

a stray glass slipper on a stair.

My sturdy hiking boot squelches

in thick, sticky mud.

If conditions are right, the mark that it makes

might live on, engraved in the landscape,

written in rock, long after I’m gone

and it will be proof I was here.


Stimson, Matt, et al. "Rugalichnus mclaughlinensis: A New Ichnospecies of Microbially Induced Sedimentary Structure from the Nonmarine Early Carboniferous of New Brunswick, Canada." Fossil Record 7, vol. 2, edited by Spencer Lucas and Robert Sullivan. New Mexico Museum of Natural History Bulletin, vol. 79, 2018, pp. 673-89.

Sturgeon, Nathalie. “Scientific Find Named After Norton Man: A Microbial Mat Has Been Named After the Late Paul McLaughlin.” Telegraph-Journal [Saint John, NB], 13 Nov. 2019, p. B3.