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A Geoscience Guide to the Burgess Shale: Geology and Paleontology in Yoho… (2006)

by Murray Coppold, Wayne Powell (Author)

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Summary: This slim little book includes sections on the geology and paleontology of the Burgess Shale formation, including how the Rockies formed, where, when, and how the Burgess Shale formed (what is now southwestern Alberta was on the equator at the time), why it's such an important fossil location, what life was like in the mid-late Cambrian (~505 million years ago), and the recent history of the quarry site, from discovery through recent research. It also has short descriptions of several species of animals from the shale (not complete by any means, but hits most of the common and/or really weird ones), as well as a nice section describing the various trilobites found here and at the nearby Mt. Stephen Trilobite bed.

Review: This really is a quick-and-dirty guide to the Burgess Shale; covering every topic in a page or three, but never getting particularly in-depth on anything. Because it's so quick, the comprehension level got a little bit hard: I am not a geologist, so parts of those sections certainly went right over my head, as I'm sure some of the paleontology and evolution sections would to non-specialists. The best thing about this book is far and away the number of pictures and illustrations it contains - topographic and stratigraphic maps of the area, photos of actual fossils (with scale bars, which is always nice) and artists' re-creations of the actual animals, historical photographs of Walcott's work at the quarry, and diagrams explaining plate tectonics, mountain building, and patterns of global climate change. For the most parts, it's a quick, easy read full of soundbites of information but without a ton of depth. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: This book is mostly going to appeal to people who've been to the area and want a quick reminder of what their tour guide told them. If you're interested in learning more about the Burgess Shale, I'd recommend picking up Stephen Jay Gould's Wonderful Life, a well-written and accessible discussion of the creatures of the Burgess Shale and their place in the history of life. ( )
2 vote fyrefly98 | Jul 25, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Murray Coppoldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Powell, WayneAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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In 1884 the Canadian Pacific Railway reached the Kicking Horse Valley where it established the town of Field.
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