Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Burgess Shale not all snuffed out?

Check this out. A discovery in Morocco similar to the Burgess Shale, and ONLY UNCOVERED IN THE 10TH YEAR OF RESEARCH!!

Conclusion is that not all the Burgess Shale creatures pooped out in a huge extinction event. It's just the record (for their continued existence) is incomplete.

If you don't know, the Burgess Shale is this amazing collection of fossils in Canada that is very unusual in that conditions were apparently perfect to preserve all kinds of animals, including, amazingly, those with soft bodies (hence my jellyfish photo). Huge diversity, stunning.

Typically what you get in the fossil record is bones, shells, and foot prints (or worm paths, etc. This is a gross generalization). So, creatures that leave no "footprint" and don't have bones/hard shells are under-represented, which means they remain mysterious. The Burgess Shale has perfect impressions of things like jellyfish, etc.--soft bodied animals--and there was an unbelievable diversity of them and shelled creatures as well.

Here's the abstract, published in Nature.

So, kudos to the research team (including a few Yalies), and kudos to National Geographic for FUNDING THE TENTH YEAR. Can you imagine if they'd not gone out that 10th year?!?


If you cannot tell, I'm very into the importance of long term research. And it's TOUGH to keep getting funded, since most grants are short term.

And I'm a big fan of the B.S.

Exciting news!


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