Son of Burgess Shale

August 31, 2010 § Leave a comment

Wired Science has a report on a new fossil-containing site near the Burgess Shale in the Canadian Rockies.  If you’ve read Stephen Jay Gould’s Wonderful Life, you know all about the Burgess Shale.  Gould argues that because many of the lineages represented in the Burgess Shale apparently died out, for no obvious reason, chance must have been a major factor in determining which lineages survived.  So if you could go back to the pre-Cambrian era and try again, you might end up with something completely different.  (Or, of course, you might not, since determining whether there were good reasons for a species to die out is quite hard at a distance of 550 million years.)  The Burgess Shale is one of the best records of the diversification of multicellular anatomy we call the Cambrian Explosion.

The description of the new site, published in Geology, also describes the identification of eight novel taxa in the fossils found there.  I always wonder what creationists think of this stuff.  [But please, don’t tell me.]  What was God thinking when he left us fossils of Opabinia and Hallucigenia?

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