Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park

Categories: Hiking Trails, Historic Sites, Nature & Parks, Tourist Spots, Outdoor Activities
Inspirock Rating:
4.8/5 based on 40 reviews on the web
The Burgess Shale Formation is a fossiliferous deposit exposed in the Canadian Rockies of British Columbia, Canada. It is famous for the exceptional preservation of the soft parts of its fossils. At (Middle Cambrian) old, it is one of the earliest fossil beds containing soft-part imprints.The rock unit is a black shale and crops out at a number of localities near the town of Field in Yoho National Park and the Kicking Horse Pass. Another outcrop is in Kootenay National Park 42 km to the south.History and significanceThe Burgess Shale was discovered by palaeontologist Charles Walcott on 30 August 1909, towards the end of the season's fieldwork. He returned in 1910 with his sons, daughter, and wife, establishing a quarry on the flanks of Fossil Ridge. The significance of soft-bodied preservation, and the range of organisms he recognised as new to science, led him to return to the quarry almost every year until 1924. At that point, aged 74, he had amassed over 65,000 specimens. Describing the fossils was a vast task, pursued by Walcott until his death in 1927. Walcott, led by scientific opinion at the time, attempted to categorise all fossils into living taxa, and as a result, the fossils were regarded as little more than curiosities at the time. It was not until 1962 that a first-hand reinvestigation of the fossils was attempted, by Alberto Simonetta. This led scientists to recognise that Walcott had barely scratched the surface of information available in the Burgess Shale, and also made it clear that the organisms did not fit comfortably into modern groups.
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  • We hiked to Burgess Shale with a visit by Parks Canada and it was just awesome! We were a little scared at first, because of all the warnings Parks Canada post on their website, but it turns out that ...  read more »
  • There a number of hikes you can do to see the site of the Burgess Shale (one of the most important fossil sites in the world) - they are all guided. This is the less strenuous of them and run by Parks...  read more »
  • A wonderful guide who tried to make the hike about more than the destination (which is a long way up!). Saw a kingfisher and woodpecker and had over an hour to look for fossils - very interesting. 
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