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.

High in the mountains of Yoho and Kootenay National Park, the Burgess Shale fossils are the oldest evidence of complex life on Earth. The amazingly detailed preservation shows us a complete marine ecosystem that existed long before the dinosaurs. The Burgess Shale fossils provide the link between modern day species and those from over 500 million years ago.  These fossils are so important that they have been recognized as a key part of the UNESCO Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site. Scientists are still making new discoveries and finding new animals, which are changing our understanding of early life and evolution! The Burgess Shale is part of the larger Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.

Parks Canada protects these internationally significant treasures and offers guided hikes to three unique Burgess Shale fossil sites in Yoho and Kootenay National Park

Discover the Burgess Shale fossils!

Join Parks Canada for a once in a lifetime adventure

Burgess Shale Virtual Exhibit

Animated drawing of a Burgess Shale creature
Visit the virtual exhibit

Explore the Burgess Shale online 

The Burgess Shale Virtual 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 Burgess Shale Virtual Exhibit was created by Parks Canada and the Royal Ontario Museum.