Plenty of scientific opportunities at the Shale

I would like to congratulate Chris Jenkins for his amazing fossil find.

I would like to congratulate Chris Jenkins for his amazing fossil find, highlighted in the November 8 article titled “Former MP on the stump for Kootenay fossil find.”

This is a great discovery for the East Kootenay and Columbia Valley and we share the excitement about the fossils and what this could mean for scientific discoveries, learning opportunities, and the local economy. I would, however, like to clarify that scientific research is active and welcome at the Burgess Shale.

Parks Canada has been preserving Yoho National Park’s Burgess Shale as a natural wonder for all Canadians and fostering scientific discovery since the site was unearthed in 1909.

Over the past 102 years, more than 200 species have been identified at the Burgess Shale, and this work continues today.

Just last week, for example, researchers from the University of Saskatchewan and the Royal Ontario Museum published the discovery of fossil track ways, providing evidence of a 66-legged sea floor predator that existed 500 million years ago.

In total, eight research permits were issued since 2002 to a number of researchers from around the world unravelling the mysteries of the Burgess Shale.

In the past five years alone, Canadian and international researchers have discovered more than 10 new animal species previously unknown to science at the Burgess Shale fossil beds, including the 2009 discovery of an ancient shellfish with claws and a circular mouth with overlapping teeth.

Each summer, Parks Canada and the Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation both offer guided hikes to the Burgess Shale from July to September.

There is also a great new Burgess Shale exhibit on display at the Field, B.C. visitor centre, and a new Royal Ontario Museum Burgess Shale virtual museum website will be launched in early December. I invite interested readers to learn more about the Burgess Shale by visiting

Again we applaud the work of Mr. Jenkins, Mr. Abbott and the Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation — may the unearthing of scientific discoveries in the B.C. Rockies and Kootenay – Columbia region continue for many years to come.

Dave McDonough

Superintendent for Yoho and Kootenay National Parks