|A TRIP TO BURGESS SHALE - AN UNIQUE EXPERIENCE|
|Imagine, you spend your three weeks' vacation in the south-western
part of Canada. Where would you go? Of course: Glacier N.P., Waterton, Banff,
Jasper, Vancouver Island to see grizzlies, black bear, moose, elk, bison,
salmon, whales. In this case you would miss one great thing: YOHO N.P. just
near Banff housing the famous BURGESS SHALE, a site bearing fossils from
approx. 530 Million years old.
You get there quite easily. You just have to book a guided tour with The Yoho-Burgess Shale Foundation, Field, B.C., Canada, meet at the agreed date at Yoho Brothers' Trading Post (Field and Trans-Canada Highway Intersection) and then ....
|START your trip early in the morning at Takakkaw Falls. The first
kilometer of the total 10,5 kms' hike (one way) is going steep uphill, then you
travel on a moderate uphill track through forest.
|CROSSING rock formations (good walking shoes are not only
recommended but necessary) you will enjoy a magnificent view of the landscape,
Emerald Lake at your feet and the glaciers opposite you, with short breaks in
between to take your breath. Do not forget to bring a hat, waterproof clothing,
water and food.
|DAVID , our guide, a graduate student, did his job very well.
Adjusting the walking pace of the group to the ability of their members, nobody
was exhausted half way at lunch break. The total elevation gain of this trip is
720 m from Takakkaw Falls! After lunch David gave an extensive, very
interesting and excellent lecture on what had been found long time ago by
Mr.Walcott, the history of the quarry and what is being done now; we enjoyed it
thoroughly and nobody went to have an after-lunch-nap. At 3 p.m after having
managed the last steep part we reached our summit:
|WALCOTT'S QUARRY. Mr. Walcott, an authority on Cambrian fossils,
discovered the famous soft-bodied fossils in Burgess Shale in 1909.
|Walcott's quarry is not the only digging site nowadays.There are
some more, but till now Walcott's quarry is the most famous and interesting for
tourists like us. Only guided tourist groups are admitted to the fossil site in
order not to disturb the continous work. We had the chance to look around and
watch the research team at their
And tedious work it is. Living in a tent camp nearby during the excavation season, digging, splitting stone slab by stone slab day by day from morning to evening - and hoping to find something new - is not everybody's choice. No cinema, no bar within next reach after a hard day's work.
|DESMOND COLLINS "PHIL" (Curator at the Royal Ontario Museum), the
leading researcher of the Burgess Shale. We had the honour to be welcomed by
this famous scientist, the more as it had been the last day of the excavation
season. He led us 530 Millions of years back when at this place there had been
a sea with animals living and dieing, being then embedded in the mud, getting
fossilized, explaining the reasons why they were in such an excellent state of
fossilization. When the rock was folded up, the fossil animals became exposed
by erosion for present scientist to dig them up. Thanks to PROF. COLLINS and
our guide DAVID this trip was a really unique experience.
|We were allowed to take pictures of the fossils having been dug up, representing only a few animals inhabiting the ocean approx. 530 Millions of years ago|
Priapulid Ottoia (8 cm long)
Marella (2 cm long)
|But number one is ....
up to 60 cm long
Animation of Anomalocaris, a Burgess shale predator. Inspired by a drawing by Marianne Collins © copyright 1996 Starry Messenger Communications from ScienceWeb
|We did not see Pikaia. Pikaia my be the ancestor of all animals with backbones, including ourselves. So come to Burgess Shale and try your luck.|
|WAY BACK we started at approx. 4 p.m. Everybody was full of new impressions; the group dispersed when walking downhill, everybody went at his own pace, DAVID the last in the line taking care that nobody was left behind. It was early September, the sun started going down and when we were passing the shrubbs full of berries on the last few kilometers we remembered the signboard in Yoho Reception Center: "It's berry season now. Be aware when hiking, that you might walk through the dining room of a bear." Fortunate or unfortunate for us no bear showed up. Anyhow, it had been a great day.|
Join and support the work of
THE YOHO-BURGESS SHALE FOUNDATION
P.O.Box 148, Field, British Columbia, Canada V0A 1G0
Telephone: (230) 343 - 6480
Fax: (250) 343 - 6426
and learn more about the
As "friend" of the association you will receive
Look for the uptodate program of the Earth Science Educational Hikes
|More about Bugess Shale in the Internet:
On The Fossil Trail by Rob Scoble (Another trip report)
Visiting the Bugess Shale from Yoho National Park Park
Burgess Shale by Andrew MacRae
with photos and many links to related sites
All about Burgess Shale from ScienceWeb
Strange Creatures - A Burgess Shale Fossil Sampler "The Fossil Index " and "Homepage" from the Smithsonian
Explorations in Science and Technology:
The Burgess Shale Fossil Bed from ScienceWeb
|Text by Gertraud Winter (Mai 1998)
Photos by Gerhard Winter (Sept 5th, 1997)