Geological Magazine


The Highest Fossils in the World

N. E. Odella1

a1 Clare College, Cambridge.

In his splendid volume Geology of the Himalayas (1964; reviewed in this Number, p. 86), Professor Augusto Gansser refers (p. 164) to the rock specimens brought back from the summit of Mount Everest by the successful Swiss climbers in 1956, and also by the American team in 1963. All the various summit specimens, Professor Gansser states, are lithologically quite identical. They consist of fine-grained, thin-bedded grey calc-schists or platy limestones. The calcites are elongated conformably with the schistosity, which seems to parallel the bedding. The detrital grains are mostly quartz, acid plagioclases and some microline, together with fine sericite lamellae, paralleling the calcites. Gansser continues: “Of special interest is the fact that both samples contain crinoidal fragments. Their large uniform calcite crystals contrast with the otherwise much finer crystalline matrix. In one elongated stem-fragment the segmentation is visible (Photo. 46), while one small plate still shows the well-preserved perforation (Photo. 47).” Moreover, he observes: “These remnants, representing the highest fossils in the world, are unfortunately not sufficiently well-preserved to allow an age-determination of the top Everest limestone. They do, however, support rather than contradict the Carboniferous (to Lower Permian) age generally assigned to the Everest limestones, on the grounds that they are overlain by the (Upper) Permian Lachi Series (Odell, 1943; Wager, 1939).”