Awesome New Cambrian Fossil Find

Scientists have announced an incredible find, a fossil bed in the same formation as the Burgess Shale that contains a staggering number of well-preserved, soft-bodied organisms that should provide a massive amount of new data to fill in some gaps in the fossil record of the Cambrian era.

A treasure trove of fossils chiseled out of a canyon in Canada’s Kootenay National Park rivals the famous Burgess Shale, the best record of early life on Earth, scientists say.

“Once we started to break fresh rock, we realized we had discovered something incredibly special,” said Robert Gaines, a geologist at Pomona College in Pomona, Calif., and co-author of a new study announcing the find. “It was an extraordinary moment.”…

The fossils are extraordinary because they preserve soft parts of ancient animals in exceptional detail; these soft parts are less likely to be imprinted in stone than harder parts, like bones. More than 200 animal species have been identified at the 1909 fossil site, providing a rare window into the Cambrian explosion, the time when complex body forms first appeared in Earth’s fossil record starting about 542 million years ago.

“Nowhere do we have a better view of exactly what the Cambrian looked like and its relationship to the environment than in the Burgess Shale,” Gaines told Live Science’s Our Amazing Planet.

The new site is also in the Burgess Shale formation, and seems to rival the 1909 original in fossil diversity and preservation, researchers report today (Feb. 11) in the journal Nature Communications. In just two weeks, the research team collected more than 3,000 fossils representing 55 species. Fifteen of these species are new to science.

This is the kind of thing that gets scientists very excited. And it should.


  1. John Pieret says

    Besides, those fossils are no more that 4,500 years old and were laid down in the Flood. I know because Ken Ham told me so!

  2. sinned34 says

    3,000 fossils? That means there are 6,000 more gaps in the fossil record that evolution fails to explain!

  3. roxchix says

    One thing I love about this, is that Pomona College is a tiny little liberal arts school, without even a graduate program, technically in the shadow of the big guns in L.A. (UCLA, USC, Caltech, etc), and yet the faculty have the resourcefullness to be able to produce research like this, and to expose their undergraduate students to in depth research that undergraduates often miss out on at the big research schools.

  4. david says

    “…new data to fill in some gaps in the fossil record …”

    Didn’t you mean “… new data to double the number of gaps in the fossil record …”?

  5. Wylann says

    Preserved well enough to get details of soft body parts? Very nice find indeed.

    Now, I eagerly await the finding of the rabbit fossil…..

  6. thebookofdave says

    Historical evidence is not evidence! How do you know when this formation was laid down? Were you there?

  7. roxchix says

    Oh, and for those keeping score, this is one of the ways to make predictions and test hypothesis using inductive reasoning, wrt geologic history.

  8. matty1 says

    I’ve always thought one of the best answers to “Were you there?” is “Yes, yes I was and since you weren’t by your own rules that eyewitness evidence is best you must accept my claims”.

  9. thebookofdave says

    Each new fossil fits scientific theories

    Except when it doesn’t, and you have to once again change your bogus claims fit the facts. You can’t even keep your stories straight. Teach the controversy!

  10. says

    Ugh. When I do a Google News search for “cambrian fossil,” the second (SECOND!) link that comes up is the spin from the Discovery Institute’s “Media Complaints Division.”
    “In the Canadian Rockies, a Major Fossil Find Intensifies the Object of Darwin’s Doubt”

    For those of you above who were joking about “more gaps!” – that’s basically what they’re saying, to the extent I can make sense of it.

    And the third link is the same piece in the form of an unedited press release at the Sacramento Bee’s website. It’s just now occurred to me that naming that page “Evolution News” was a deliberate strategy to get it ranked high in the results on news searches about evolution. But I don’t know much about search algorithms – is that plausible?

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