Saturday, August 1, 2009

Burgess Shale named after nearby Mount Burgess

The Burgess Shale is a rich repository of well-preserved fossils from the Cambrian age. It is located in the Yoho National Park of British Columbia, Canada, and is named after Mount Burgess in the Canadian Rockies [1]. Fossil organisms, found there, are called Burgess specimens:
The Burgess Shale is Mecca for paleontologists. Charles Doolittle Walcott, the fourth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, discovered this rich fossil bed a century ago, in the summer of 1909, and named it for nearby Mount Burgess. [...] The exquisitely preserved Burgess specimens (most likely entombed by underwater mudslides) include the remnants of soft-bodied organisms, which are rare in the fossil record. The animals inhabitated the ocean floor 505 million year ago, near the end of the Cambrian Period.
[1] Siobhan Roberts: Evolution's Big BangA storied trove of fossils from Canada's Burgess Shale is yielding new clues to an explosion of life on earth. Smithsonian August 2009, Volume 40, Number 5, pp.15-17.

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