New Fossil Field Found in Canadian Rockies

FIELD, British Columbia, Aug. 30 (UPI) — A fossil bed in Canada, one of paleontology’s most revered locations, now has a neighbor yielding up newly discovered ancient treasures, researchers say.

The new site in the Canadian Rockies is less than 25 miles from the famous Burgess Shale, which has yielded thousands of fossils dating to 505 million years ago since its discovery in 1909, reported Monday.

Fossils at Burgess appear in several outcrops, all within less than 40 miles from Field, British Columbia, and all occurring in shale deposits called the Stephen Formation, 800 to 1,200 feet thick.

Now a team from the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto has found Burgess-like fossils in the valley of the Stanley Glacier in Kootenay National Park, where a much thinner part of the shale formation that ranges from 50 to 500 feet thick is exposed.

About half of the fossil groups found at Stanley Glacier, such as trilobites, are found at other Burgess sites in different abundances. But the creatures unearthed at Stanley also include eight taxa, or groups, previously unknown to science, the Toronto team said.

“We consider it likely that future exploration and study will continue to yield new taxa from the ‘thin’ Stephen Formation, which is exposed over a broader area regionally than the ‘thick’ Stephen Formation,” the researchers said in an article in the journal Geology.

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