As scientists seeking clues to the Earth’s and Mankind’s past; expeditions spanning the globe are often launched in search of fossils. Soft-shelled fossils are extremely rare due to their inherent fragility and rarity of necessary conditions to preserve such specimens. The Burgess Shale formation located in British Columbia contains some of the best-preserved and most abundant collections of soft-shelled fossils known. Referred to as a Lagerstatten; or “place of excellent preservation”, the Burgess houses many relatives of familiar species we see living today, as well as some hitherto unique and unknown to paleontologists. Indeed the most significant aspects of this site may shed light on todays most controversial, and modern science’s most puzzling arguments. This paper will briefly introduce the formations geography history, as well as explore specific fossilized specimens found in the Shale to emphasize the sites importance as a World Heritage Site and it’s relevance to science today.
Within the Yoho National Park, the fossil quarries arise in the Burgess Pass, the southwest-facing saddle between Mount Wapta and Mount Field. This saddle contains two quarries: The Walcott is the lower quarry; with Raymond quarry just above. First visited by Charles Bishop Walcott in 1907, the main shale site known and studied today was deposited at the base of a 160m cliff wasn’t officially discovered until 1909. Fossils found within are estimated to about 505 million years old, dating to the mid to late Cambrian period. During this period, the site rested on the west coast of North America very near the equatorial position as a coastal shallow reef; as graphically depicted in the following model.
(http://www.burgess-shale.bc.ca…). Because of the varying angles in which specimens were discovered as well as sediment found within these specimens joints, Harry B. Whittington deduced
References: Books: Briggs, D.E.G; Erwin. D.H.; Collier, F.J. 1995. Fossils of the Burgess Shale. Washington: Smithsonian Inst. Press Gould, Stephen Jay. 1989. Wonderful Life. W.W. Norton and Company. 347 p. Harry B. Whittington. 1985. The Burgess Shale. Yale University. 147 p. Levin, Harold L. 1999. Ancient Invertebrates and Their Living Relatives. Prentice Hall. 358 p. Moore, Raymond C.; Lalicker, Cecil G; Fischer, Alfred G. Invertebrate Fossils. McGraw-Hill Book Co. Pg. 487 Morris, Simon Conway. 1998. The Crucible of Creation. Oxford University Press. 242 p. Paul D. Taylor and David N. Lewis. 2005. Fossil Invertebrates. Harvard University Press. 208 p. Amount of marrella specimens [http://www.burgess-shale.bc.ca/discover/ancient-creatures/marrella]