Aerial view showing Wapta Mountain with the main Burgess Shale sites

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Introduction

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.

By studying the fossilized remains of animals such as Anomalocaris, Opabinia, and Marrella, your students are able to explore the circumstances leading to the formation of such unusual fossils, reconstruct Cambrian food webs, examine the Earth’s first great predators and the concomitant evolution of new defensive structures, and discover the origin of the diversity of modern animals.

The historic explorations connect events, places and people which made the discovery of the Burgess Shale possible. It also looks into a technological innovation, in this case the panoramic camera and its application. Your students are invited to reflect on the significance and implications of the connections.


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