Introduction

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Introduction

Burgess Shale panorama from the Burgess pass.

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Panoramic view from base of Mount Burgess showing the Burgess Shale on Fossil Ridge (centre, in the background) between Wapta Mountain (middle left) and Mount Field (middle right).

© Royal Ontario Museum. Photo: Jean-Bernard Caron.

Burgess Shale

High on a mountain ridge in Canada’s spectacular Yoho National Park in British Columbia is one of Earth’s most important fossil deposits: the Burgess Shale. Preserved with exquisite detail within the rock layers for the last half-billion years are the remains of soft-bodied and often bizarre animals and algae dating from the Cambrian period. These exceptional fossils include some of the oldest members of many animal groups still alive today.

The Burgess Shale has a rich History of discoveries which span more than 125 years. In this website you will discover these extraordinary creatures through images of their remains in the Fossil Gallery and also through reconstructions including digital animations in the Virtual Sea Odyssey. You will learn about the Science, about how fossils are discovered and studied, and about the current research being done — as well as how to learn about, visit, share and help protect the sites today with Parks Canada.

Of global significance for understanding Cambrian life, the Burgess Shale was designated a World Heritage Site in 1980. Today it forms part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site. World Heritage sites are features of exceptional cultural and natural significance, and are considered to be of outstanding universal value to humanity. As part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site, the Burgess Shale joins locations as unique and diverse as the Taj Mahal in India, the Pyramids of Egypt, and Dinosaur Provincial Park in Canada.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization | Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, World Heritage Site since 1984