Burgess Shale Expedition Overview

SUMMARY: Peter Fenton, technician at the Royal Ontario Museum, discusses the preparations and equipment necessary to prepare for and perform a paleontological dig of Burgess Shale fossils in British Columbia, particularly in Yoho National Park. (1:46)

Aerial view of fossil location
DESCRIPTION: Aerial view of fossil location

"It's a really long journey for the little fossil – the half a billion year old fossil – from the top of that mountaintop in Yoho National Park back to the ROM here. The Burgess Shale actually can be found, Burgess Shale-type specimens can be found on half a dozen mountaintops in British Columbia."

ROM workers in the Walcott Quarry
DESCRIPTION: ROM workers in the Walcott Quarry

"You may, for instance, know that fossils appear in a specific rock layer in, for instance, the Walcott Quarry, which is on Fossil Ridge between Wapta Mountain and Mount Field. So you know they occur in that very specific rock."

Geological map of area
DESCRIPTION: Geological map of area

"Geologists have heavily mapped these areas, so we know what rock layers, or what rock formations, occur in specific areas. So I'm standing on Fossil Ridge, and I know this specific fossil is from this area, and by looking at my map,"

Mountains
DESCRIPTION: Mountains

"I know I have the same sort of rock. So that, to me, would be a perfect place to go and look."

Topographic map
DESCRIPTION: Topographic map

"We'll even pull out topographic maps. All the very fine little lines represent changes in elevation. These little lines, the elevation lines, the closer they are on a map, we know the elevation is increasing rapidly."

Palaeontologists near cliff
DESCRIPTION: Palaeontologists near cliff

"In other words: we're probably facing a cliff. And we might not want to go that way."

Palaeontologists walking along a path
DESCRIPTION: Palaeontologists walking along a path

"We'll find a more logical way to tackle the problem of sort of, getting where we want to go."