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Great Canadian Lagerstätten

February 10, 2010

Mistaken Point, Newfoundland (photo © David Rudkin, Royal Ontario Museum)

In mid May, the huge GeoCanada 2010 conference will take place in Calgary.  This is a once-every-decade meeting, and since Canada is home to some of the world’s most exciting fossil sites, it seemed like a very good opportunity to explain the sites and the research that is allowing us to better understand them.

Ediacaran fossils at Mistaken Point: Fractofusus misrai and Bradgatia on the famous E surface (Guy Narbonne's index finger points to F. misrai). (photo © David Rudkin, Royal Ontario Museum)

Dave Rudkin and I have been organizing the Special Session Great Canadian Lagerstätten, which will explore the theme of exceptional fossil preservation in Canada. A lagerstätte is a deposit in which fossils are either exceptionally preserved or unusually abundant. Canada’s remarkable fossil record includes many recognized lagerstätten, each providing unique evidence of past life. Our most famous lagerstätten include the Ediacaran fossils at Mistaken Point, Newfoundland, the Cambrian wonders of the Burgess Shale, British Columbia, and the Cretaceous dinosaur bone beds of Alberta, but there are many other less well-known lagerstätten, in almost every province and territory.

The Cambrian Burgess Shale: Walcott's Quarry (Greater Phyllopod Bed section), Fossil Ridge, Yoho National Park, BC (Wapta Mountain in background) (photo © David Rudkin, Royal Ontario Museum)

The Burgess Shale soft-bodied fossil Wiwaxia corrugata in reflected light (ROM 56950) (photo © David Rudkin, Royal Ontario Museum)

This session will provide a survey of these wonderful Canadian sites, with a focus on recent fossil discoveries. The tentative session schedule includes both lecture and poster presentations:

A. Lectures (20 minutes each; speaker indicated with a *)

1. Guy Narbonne* (Queen’s University)
When Life Got Big: The Mistaken Point Assemblage of Newfoundland (Ediacaran, 579-560 Ma)

2. Jean-Bernard Caron* (Royal Ontario Museum)
Discovery and significance of the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale

3. David Rudkin* (Royal Ontario Museum)
Eurypterids and More – The Eramosa and Bertie Lagerstätten (Silurian), Southern Ontario

4. Richard Cloutier* (Université du Québec à Rimouski)
The Late Devonian biota of the Miguasha National Park UNESCO World Heritage Site

5. John Calder* (Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources)
The Joggins Fossil Cliffs World Heritage Site: Coal Age Galápagos

6. Andrew Neuman* (Royal Tyrrell Museum) and Raoul Mutter
Wapiti Lake (BC): A Great Triassic Canadian Fossillagerstätte

7. Philip Currie* (University of Alberta)
Dinosaur Provincial Park, One Of The Greatest Outdoor Laboratories For Understanding Late Cretaceous Ecosystems

8. Mark Wilson* (University of Alberta)
Three Views of Eocene Life in British Columbia

B. Poster Presentations (presenter indicated with a *)

1. Thomas Harvey and Nicholas Butterfield* (Cambridge University)
An arthropod Lagerstätte from the early Cambrian Mount Cap Formation (Northwest Territories, Canada)

2. Nicholas Butterfield* (Cambridge University) and Maria Velez
A Burgess Shale-type micro-Lagerstätte from subsurface of SW Saskatchewan

3. Graham Young* (The Manitoba Museum), David Rudkin, Edward Dobrzanski, Sean Robson, Michael Cuggy, and Deborah Thompson
Late Ordovician Lagerstätten in Manitoba, Canada

4. Michael Cuggy* (University of Saskatchewan), David Rudkin, and Graham Young
A New Late Ordovician (Richmondian) Eurypterid from the William Lake Lagerstätte, Manitoba

5. S. Bruce Archibald* (Simon Fraser University), Rolf Mathewes, David Greenwood, Robin Smith, and James F. Basinger
Lagerstätten of the Okanagan Highlands (British Columbia and Washington): emergent communities in Early Eocene climates


Ordovician dolostone cliffs of the Red River Formation at Cat Head, Manitoba contain remarkable fossils.

Superbly preserved Ordovician eurypterid cuticle from Airport Cove, Manitoba; scale is in millimetres (specimen I-4063, © The Manitoba Museum)

If you are planning to attend the GeoCanada meeting, we strongly encourage you to take in this session.  Or if you live in the Calgary area and are interested in unusual fossils, you might want to consider paying a one-day registration! We don’t yet know the date and time for this session; please check back here or on the conference website if you are interested.

The Silurian eurypterid Eurypterus remipes, from the Bertie Formation near Ridgemount, Ontario (ROM 56889) (photo © David Rudkin, Royal Ontario Museum)

This session is sponsored by the Paleontology Division of the Geological Association of Canada.

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