New animal species discovered at fossil site

Fossil Arthropod from the Marble Canyon site in Kootenay National Park. (Photo courtesy Todd...

Fossil Arthropod from the Marble Canyon site in Kootenay National Park. (Photo courtesy Todd Keith/Parks Canada)

Bill Kaufmann, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

CALGARY -- Researchers wrapping up a summer of digging at a "stunning" Rocky Mountain fossil site say they've uncovered a dozen new animal species and a new understanding of early evolution.

The season's work at the Marble Canyon Burgess Shale quarry in Kootenay National Park, located 56 km east of Banff, Alta, in southeastern B.C., has also revealed the fabulous scope of the spot, said Jean-Bernard Caron, curator with the Royal Ontario Museum.

Productive digs often yield one impressive find a week, he said, "we're finding excellent, absolutely stunning fossils almost every day."

"We could spend several years, another couple of seasons there. It's hard to comprehend."

It's the second full season -- the first was in 2012 -- that the team of professionals and student volunteers have been cracking open rock shelves revealing 500 million-year-old imprints of anthropods and fish amazingly well-preserved.

The marine creatures were caught in a rapid mudslide, sometimes producing three-dimensional fossils, said Caron.

"The preserved soft tissue is in excellent detail...sometimes we're seeing their last meal," he said.


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