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The Burgess Shale

Preservation
Biota
History

Geology and localities

Stephen Formation
Cathedral escarpment
Walcott Quarry (containing the Phyllopod bed)
Raymond Quarry
Mount Stephen trilobite beds
Mount Stephen localities
Odaray Mountain
Stanley Glacier

Fossils

Marrella
Anomalocaridids
Halwaxiids
Opabinia
Odontogriphus

Key organisms

Ediacara biota

Kimberella
Vernanimalcula

Burgess-type

Marrella
Anomalocaridids
Halwaxiids
Opabinia
Odontogriphus

Small shelly fauna

Helcionellids

Evolutionary concepts

Cambrian explosion

Trends

Cambrian substrate revolution

Themes

Cladistics
Convergent evolution
Stem and crown groups

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The Burgess Shale of British Columbia is famous for its exceptional preservation of mid-Cambrian organisms. Around 40[1] other sites have been discovered of a similar age, with soft tissues preserved in a similar, though not identical, fashion. Additional sites with a similar form of preservation are known from the Ediacaran[2] and Ordovician periods.[3]
These various shales are of great importance in the reconstruction of the ecosystems immediately after the Cambrian explosion. The taphonomic regime results in soft tissue being preserved, which means that organisms without hard parts that could be conventionally fossilised can be seen; also, we gain an insight into the organs of more familiar organisms such as the trilobites.
The most famous localities preserving organisms in this fashion are the Canadian Burgess Shale, the Chinese Chengjiang fauna, and the more remote Sirius Passet in north Greenland. However, a number of other localities also exist.

Contents

1 Distribution
2 Preservational regime
3 What is preserved

3.1 Carbon
3.2 Phyllosilicates
3.3 Pyrite
3.4 Other preservational pathways

4 How it is preserved
5 Elemental distribution
6 Sedimentary setting

6.1 Brine seeps

7 Before burial
8 During burial
9 Post burial
10 Closing the taphonomic window
11 Faunas
12 References

Distribution[edit]
Burgess Shale type biotas are found only in the early and middle Cambrian,[4] but the preservational mode is also present before the Cambrian. It is surprisingly common during the Cambrian period; over 40 sites are known from across the globe, and soft bodied fossils occur in abundance at nine of these.[1]
Preservational regime[edit]

A Burgess Shale trilobite showing soft-part preservation

Burgess Shale type deposits occur ei