Monday, May 17, 2010

Burgess Shale

The story of the Cambrian explosion and some of the earliest forms of "bigger" life told in Stephen Jay Gould's book "Wonderful Life" is one of the more memorable things I read when I was about 20yrs old. I'd always liked Gould's scientific essays, but this was a full book on some of the craziest looking creatures I could imagine that they found in some shale in Canada's Burgess Shale.

CLICK HERE FOR SOME IMAGES - You've probably seen a TV show or pics of some of these strange creatures before.

I remember in the book he talked about how it was kindof a mystery why all this life exploded onto the scene and then seemingly disappeared from the fossil record. One of the working theories was that a major extinction event knocked many of the creatures out and that life had a false start and started over.

Well it turns out some descendants of the cambrian explosion have been found in Morocco - indicating that they survived and that probably the difficulty of fossilization of soft body parts is the reason for their scarcity in the fossil record. Here's the story.

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