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Unidentified species unearthed at Marble Canyon Burgess Shale site
Ryan White, CTV Calgary
Published Thursday, August 21, 2014 3:12PM MDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 21, 2014 6:55PM MDT
Researchers from the Royal Ontario Museum have located fossils from the Cambrian period in Kootenay National Park including arthropods believed to be unique to the region.
Jean-Bernard Caron heads the research team of members of the Toronto area museum. He says the Burgess Shale site, located in 2012 near Marble Canyon, has resulted in the discovery of extremely detailed arthropod specimens with similar features to the lobsters, shrimp and insects of today.
“We see beds of preserving animals in exquisite details together,” explains Caron. “Basically a community that was buried together like a snapshot. Sometimes you find the gut contents as well, so you know what was the last meal of some of the organisms.”
The Kootenay National Park find is the most recent of the dozen Burgess Shale sites to be discovered in British Columbia’s mountain parks. The Burgess Shale is believed to be more than 505 million years old.
The Royal Ontario Museum researchers will remain in the field until early September. The specimens will be shipped to the museum where they will be catalogued into specific groups before attempts are made to identify the new species.
Since the initial discovery of the Burgess Shale in 1909, more than 200,000 specimens have been located and more than 200 species identified.
Public access to the Burgess Shale sites is limited. Visitors may take part in a guided hike at three of the twelve sites.
The partnership between the Royal Ontario Museum and Parks Canada offers guided hike participants the opportunity to see research in the field. .
“We are getting the cutting edge knowledge of the research that is happening in the world from this time period, 505 million years ago,” said Kristi Beetch, Parks Canada Burgess Shale interpretive guide. “We get to come up and work with these paleontologists and learn all of the latest research as its happening. It’s pretty exciting!”
With files from CTV's Kevin Fleming