The Burgess Shale Formation, located in the Canadian Rockies of British Columbia, is one of the world's most celebrated fossil fields, and the best of its kind. It is famous for the exceptional preservation of the soft parts of its fossils. At 505 million years (Middle Cambrian) old it is one of the earliest fossil beds containing the imprints of soft-parts.
The rock unit is a black shale, and crops out at a number of localities near the town of Field in Yoho National Park.
The Burgess Shale was discovered by palaeontologist Charles Walcott in 1909, towards the end of the season's fieldwork. He returned in 1910 with his sons, daughter, and wife, establishing a quarry on the flanks of Fossil Ridge. The significance of soft-bodied preservation, and the range of organisms he recognised as new to science, led him to return to the quarry almost every year until 1924.
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