Parks Canada guide holding a fossil

The Burgess Shale fossils are...

OldOver five hundred million years old! Way older than dinosaurs!

Well preservedYou can see all sorts of really fine details! And not just details of bones like most fossils, you can also see eyeballs and guts, brains and more!

Your relatives!Our ancestry can be traced back to these diverse ocean creatures.

The Burgess Shale fossils are some of the oldest and most complex in the world! They are so important that they have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These fossils represent a complete ecosystem that existed for only a very short time after the first explosion of multicellular life on earth. We are still making new discoveries and finding new animals, which are changing our understanding of early life and evolution! The Burgess Shale is now part of the larger Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.

Discover the Burgess Shale fossils!

Join Parks Canada for a once in a lifetime adventure

Virtual Museum of Canada

Animated drawing of a Burgess Shale creature
Visit the virtual museum

Burgess Shale Exhibit

The Virtual Museum of Canada's Burgess Shale exhibit explores the history and science of the Burgess Shale, hosts a comprehensive fossil gallery, and also an animated tour of the Cambrian seas that once occupied what is now Yoho and Kootenay National Parks. An excellent primer, the Virtual Museum of Canada's Burgess Shale exhibition was created by Parks Canada and the Royal Ontario Museum.