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 ROM Burgess Shale Website 

The Burgess Shale Website contains detailed information, images and digital renderings of animals in the fossil gallery. Digital animations in the virtual sea odyssey bring Burgess Shale creatures to life. You will learn about the science of fossils, current research as well as the history of discoveries. This website was created by Parks Canada and the Royal Ontario Museum.

Discover the Burgess Shale Online Exhibit

The Burgess Shale Online Exhibit on Google Arts & Culture provides an easy to understand introduction to the Burgess Shale. It explores the history of the fossil sites in Yoho and Kootenay national parks and the significance of the fossils found there. This is a great starting point for those interested in joining a guided hike or looking for a quick introduction to the Burgess Shale.