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.