Burgess Shale

Abstract

In the Burgess Shale are preserved in exquisite detail complete communities of invertebrates that lived on the seafloor 505 million years ago, soon after the Cambrian evolutionary explosion. Burgess Shale fossils are extraordinarily important for the light they shed on early animal life and its subsequent evolution.

Keywords: first animal communities; middle cambrian; canada

Figure 1.

The earliest known chelicerate, Sanctacaris.

Figure 2.

The dinocarid predator, Anomalocaris.

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References

Briggs DEG, Erwin DH and Collier FJ (1994) The Fossils of the Burgess Shale. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Butterfield NJ (1996) Fossil preservation in the Burgess Shale: Reply. Lethaia 29: 109–112.

Collins DH (1996) The evolution of Anomalocaris and its classification in the arthropod class Dinocarida (nov.) and order Radiodonta (nov.). Journal of Paleontology 70: 280–293.

Conway Morris S (1977) Fossil priapulid worms. Special Papers in Palaeontology 20: 1–155.

Conway Morris S (1998) The Crucible of Creation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Conway Morris S and Collins DH (1996) Middle Cambrian ctenophores from the Stephen Formation, British Columbia, Canada. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 351: 279–308.

Gould SJ (1989) Wonderful Life. The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History. New York: WW Norton.

Orr PJ, Briggs DEG and Kearns SL (1998) Cambrian Burgess Shale animals replicated in clay minerals. Science 281: 1173–1175.

Whittington HB (1971) The Burgess Shale: history of research and preservation of fossils. Proceedings of the North American Paleontological Convention, Chicago, 1969, vol. 1, pp. 1170–1201.

Further Reading

Briggs DEG, Erwin DH and Collier FJ (1994) The Fossils of the Burgess Shale. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Conway Morris S (1998) The Crucible of Creation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gould SJ (1989) Wonderful Life. The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History. New York: WW Norton.

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How to Cite close
Collins, Desmond H(Apr 2001) Burgess Shale. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001623]