THE BURGESS SHALE STORY - PIECE 2 - THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BURGESS SHALE

Host Voice:
8 secs
The Burgess Shale Fossil find, near Field, British Columbia, in Yoho National Park has been said to be of the greatest significance.
28 secs

3 secs
Wherein lies this significance? 31 secs

20 secs
Dr. Simon Conway Morris, author of "The Crucible of Creation; the Burgess Shale and the Rise of Animals," and professor of evolutionary biology at Cambridge University, England, states that the significance lies in the fact that the deposit provides an exceptional understanding of a particular aspect of the history of life.
351 secs

12 secs
This is of the Cambrian Radiation, the explosive diversification of animal marine life 500,000,000 years ago, the likes and scale of which does not seem to have happened again in earth's history.
63 secs

15 secs
Alternatively, Harvard paleontologist Dr. Stephen Jay Gould, in his bestselling book on the Burgess Shale, "Wonderful Life" states that the find's significance lies most in its pointing to the need to conceive of new evolutionary processes.
78 secs

11 secs
Is evolution, in essence, an unpredictable, unlimited experiment, or does it have constraints and even a certain inevitability?
89 secs

3 secs
It might just be a question of emphasis.
92 secs

Dr. Tom Clark
CBC Ideas
49:09-49:14
6 secs
"Gould, of course, has his good points..."
98 secs

49:21-49:25
5 secs
"Now I wouldn't say he's wrong..."
103 secs

49:28-49:43
17 secs
" but I think he was probably wrong in emphasis, but that's the kind of man we want: a man who perhaps does overstep the mark somewhere or other."
120 secs

Host Voice:
6 secs
Dr. Tom Clark, geology professor emeritus at McGill University's Redpath Museum.
126 secs

10 secs
New finds in Greenland and China in the 80's only made Dr. Gould more insistent in his argument for unlimited change, or contingency, as THE force in evolution. 136 secs

Dr. Stephen Jay Gould
CBC Ideas
45:17-45:21
5 secs
"so, if anything, the roster of Burgess Shale peculiar creatures is going to go up, not down."
141 secs

Host Voice:
12 secs
As a consequence of the new finds, new tools of research, and Gould's insistences, the Cambrian era is today among the most intensely studied intervals in the history of life.
153 secs

7 secs
How do then animals rise and fall? The history of extinction events, a definite contingency factor, provides an answer.
160 secs

Dr. Douglas Erwin
Track 2
5:12-5:23
12 secs
"Mass extinctions are episodes in which large numbers of taxa, in many different groups, become extinct in a relatively short period of time."
172 secs


Host Voice:
6 secs
Dr. Erwin is curator at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
178 secs

7:16-7:28
13 secs
"It's certainly possible that many episodes of heightened extinction during the Cambrian may have eliminated a lot of the organisms of the Burgess Shale at that time. " 191 secs

Host Voice:
12 secs
Life does re-adapt to major changes, or punctuations such as these, and re-radiates, so contingency IS thus a factor, but another factor, called convergence, suggests something else.
203 secs

Dr. Douglas Erwin
Track 4
3:17-3:37
22 secs
"the discovery a few years ago that there was a Jurassic mammal that for all intents and purposes was similar to a modern beaver is an indicator that there are some ways of making a living in which unrelated organisms will find similar suites of adaptation."
225 secs

3:57-4:14
19 secs
"it's certainly possible to have convergences at a variety of different levels and that doesn't actually negate Steve Gould's point about contingency; these things maybe happened at different levels, at different times."
244 secs

Host Voice:
11 secs
New sciences, drawing from complementary fields of paleontology and biology, including gene sequencing, are helping to fill in the picture, showing: 255 secs

22 secs
1/ Animals have a great variety of design but share similarities at the genetic level.

2/ Early ranges of animal design were no greater than today's.

3/ Unfettered contingency and slow gradual evolution both give way to complexities and constraints imposed by ecology, competition, chemistry and other factors.

4/ The debates are NOT over and new finds will be made. Understanding bodes well for the future;

Dr. Derek Briggs of Yale University's Peabody Museum.

277 secs

Dr. Derek Briggs
38:04-38:18
15 secs
"so we have two lines of evidence now, we have the molecular clock on one hand, and we have the record of fossil appearances on the other and those two types of evidence are gradually converging on each other."
292 secs

Host Voice:
14 secs
These significant fossil finds are at risk from theft and vandalism, and two mutually linked organizations, Parks Canada and the Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation, provide a large range of protective measures, trained educators and guides to meet the need.
306 secs

4 secs
Parks Canada conservation officer John Niddrie 310 secs

John Niddrie
00:33-00:51
19 secs
"Some of the protection measures in place are # 1; controlled access, the public can only visit the site with a licensed guide, and for any scientific research, special permits are required."
329 secs

Host Voice :
5 secs
Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation spokesperson Randle Robertson.
334 secs


Randle Roberston
40:24-40:26
3 secs
"It's a very good working relationship..."
337 secs

40:35-40:41
7 secs
"we work with parks to make everyone aware that it is a world heritage site."
344 secs


CONCLUSION -EXTRO

Host Voice
45 secs
August 2009 is the 100th anniversary of the Burgess Shale finds, and Parks Canada has many activities planned in commemoration. These will include art exhibits, public presentations by the world's leading scientists, in Banff, campground theatre productions, interpretive hikes to the fossil beds all summer, and much much more.

Contact Parks Canada for more information on any of these opportunities.

Contributors were Dr. Tom Clark and Dr. Stephen Jay Gould courtesy of CBC Ideas, Dr. Douglas Erwin, courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution, Dr. Derek Briggs, courtesy of the Peabody Museum at Yale University, John Niddrie of Parks Canada and Randle Robertson of the Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation.

The Burgess Shale Story is sponsored by Parks Canada and the Friends of Banff Park Radio.
389 secs