Woo hoo! New ones!February 13th, 2014 |
Click on the awesome fossile picture and you'll go to the abstract for the paper "A new phyllopod bed-like assemblage from the Burgess Shale of the Canadian Rockies".
The abstract is not immediately clear to non-paleontologists so I thought I'd offer a handy dandy translation. It says that Canadian paleontologists have found a huge deposit of creatures previously seen in the Burgess Shale and that their presence there and the age of the fossils shows that the worldwide distribution and the length of time they stuck around might be much greater than previously thought.
Is that a big deal? Yes, it totally is.
The Burgess Shale (basically a bunch of shale – a type of rock) was discovered years ago to contain the fossils of relatively soft and squishy animals – hence super rare since they don't tend to fossilize. And the animals were totally and unexpectedly wild and crazy because evolution had JUST STARTED! Well, that's an exaggeration. But it was a huge explosion of lifeforms that was basically Mother Nature saying "Let's try this and see if it works. No? Okay, how about this?" The very earliest presence of fun lifeforms on our planet. Unless you count single celled creatures as fun lifeforms.
And it's very old stuff. We're talking the Middle Cambrian, or around half a billion years old. (BTW, this is why paleontologists have fits when people claim the entire Earth is only a few thousand years old. It's incorrect by an order of a million.)
So, anyway, huge find, much new knowledge to be had, and an all around exciting time for all. The only problem at the moment is keeping those of heavy brows and loutish sensibilities from barging in and stealing/selling it. So the location is shrouded in mystery. Thumbs up on that.