Burgess Shale visit: kickoff

One of the most significant fossil discoveries of all time was made in 1909 in the Canadian Rockies, and named the Burgess Shale. The Burgess Shale fossils are a stunning representation of the Cambrian Explosion — the sudden and rapid emergence of modern multicellular organisms around half a billion years ago. The Burgess Shale has yielded a remarkable variety of remarkably well-preserved fossils from just after the Cambrian Explosion, fossils which have preserved the structure of even the soft parts of these early water creatures.

I have traveled to Canada to visit the Burgess Shale on a guided science hike led by the Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation. Stop one is Calgary in the province of Alberta, where I am tonight. Tomorrow, I will travel to the small town of Field, British Columbia, which will be the starting point of the Burgess Shale hike the day after. I plan to take the scenic route to Field — a very, very scenic route. I plan to explore the Banff National Park area tomorrow, driving on the Icefields Parkway, reputed to be one of the most scenic drives in the world. I will stop at Columbia Icefield, which is one of the largest areas of snow and ice south of the Arctic Circle (I’ll bet Antarctica is not included in this comparison), and check out the Athabasca Glacier. I hope to post updates the next two nights.

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