The wondrous Burgess Shale

August 7th, 2009

FIELD, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA–I stepped on Paleontological Holy Ground when I visited the Burgess Shale earlier this week. It is often cited as the most important fossil locality ever. I felt the historical as well as the scientific vibrations in the Walcott Quarry, the site where the extraordinary Charles Walcott began his explorations of the unit in 1909.

The Walcott Quarry of the Burgess Shale.

The Walcott Quarry of the Burgess Shale.

There are numerous websites illustrating the famous Burgess Shale Fauna. I’ll just share some of the favorite fossils I found. (We could pick up and examine any fossil, but collecting, of course, is strictly forbidden.)

The humble sponge Vauxia. I like the less charismatic taxa in the Burgess Shale. The fancy arthropods get plenty of love!

The humble sponge Vauxia. I like the less charismatic taxa in the Burgess Shale. The fancy arthropods get plenty of love!

The primitive mollusc Scenella on the left and a trilobite on the right. The Burgess Shale fauna has plenty of skeletonized fauna along with the soft-bodied forms.

The primitive mollusc Scenella on the left and a trilobite on the right. The Burgess Shale fauna has plenty of skeletonized fauna along with the soft-bodied forms.

This is an odd breccia at the base of the Burgess Shale. The white parts are limestone fragments and the black is calcite. This may be an indication of carbonate hardgrounds -- features I study.

This is an odd breccia at the base of the Burgess Shale. The white parts are limestone fragments and the black is calcite. This may be an indication of carbonate hardgrounds -- features I study.

It is a tradition among paleontologists to pose with Charles Walcott at his famous quarry! I lack the knickers, though.

It is a tradition among paleontologists to formally pose with Charles Walcott at his famous quarry. I lack the knickers, though, and that certain set of jaw.

14 Responses to “The wondrous Burgess Shale”

  1. […] GERMANY–Last year at this time I had the privilege of visiting the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale on an expedition led by my friend Matthew James of Sonoma State University in California. It was an […]

  2. […] the Smithsonian’s Burgess Shale reconstructed images page. I was very fortunate to visit the Burgess Shale quarries in British Columbia this past summer. (That’s my photo. Here’s an image I made of an […]

  3. […] the Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation. (Last year I had my own visit to the Burgess Shale at the Walcott Quarry. Magnificent!) For serious work we hardly need to stray from the arthropod pages at Berkeley and […]

  4. […] is the Smithsonian’s Burgess Shale reconstructed images page. I was very fortunate to visit the Burgess Shale quarries in British Columbia. (That’s my photo. Here’s an image I made of an Anomalocaris fossil on the […]

  5. […] Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation. (Two years ago I had my own visit to the Burgess Shale at the Walcott Quarry. Magnificent!) For serious work we hardly need to stray from the arthropod pages at Berkeley and […]

  6. […] Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation. (Two years ago I had my own visit to the Burgess Shale at the Walcott Quarry. Magnificent!) For serious work we hardly need to stray from the arthropod pages at Berkeley and […]

  7. […] is the Smithsonian’s Burgess Shale reconstructed images page. I was very fortunate to visit the Burgess Shale quarries in British Columbia. (That’s my photo. Here’s an image I made of an Anomalocaris fossil on the […]

  8. […] is the Smithsonian’s Burgess Shale reconstructed images page. I was very fortunate to visit the Burgess Shale quarries in British Columbia. (That’s my photo. Here’s an image I made of an Anomalocaris fossil on the […]

  9. […] Shale Geoscience Foundation. (Three years ago I had my own visit to the Burgess Shale at the Walcott Quarry. Magnificent!) For serious work we hardly need to stray from the arthropod pages at Berkeley and […]

  10. […] is the Smithsonian’s Burgess Shale reconstructed images page. I was very fortunate to visit the Burgess Shale quarries in British Columbia. A site called “Prehistoric World” has some great little Burgess Shale […]

  11. […] is the Smithsonian’s Burgess Shale reconstructed images page. I was very fortunate to visit the Burgess Shale quarries in British Columbia. A site called “Prehistoric World” has some great little Burgess Shale […]

  12. […] Shale Geoscience Foundation. (Three years ago I had my own visit to the Burgess Shale at the Walcott Quarry. Magnificent!) For serious work we hardly need to stray from the arthropod pages at Berkeley and […]

  13. […] is the Smithsonian’s Burgess Shale reconstructed images page. I was very fortunate to visit the Burgess Shale quarries in British Columbia. A site called “Prehistoric World” has some great little Burgess Shale […]

  14. […] Shale Geoscience Foundation. (Three years ago I had my own visit to the Burgess Shale at the Walcott Quarry. Magnificent!) For serious work we hardly need to stray from the arthropod pages at Berkeley and […]

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