Thursday, 21 January 2021

Theft from Burgess Shale

A tourist from Belgium paid a price for going where he wasn’t supposed to go and attempting to steal an ancient artifact by putting it into a sock and stuffing it into a backpack. An alert hiking guide at the world-famous Burgess Shale Formation in Canada’s Yoho National Park spotted the tourist in a restricted area and alerted wardens.

The tourist was collecting fossils illegally near the Walcott Quarry of the Burgess Shale, a fossil field with some artifacts more than 500 million years old. Wardens dug through the tourist’s backpack and discovered the trilobite fossil.

The Walcott Quarry of the Burgess Shale.
He was charged with removing a fossil with the intention of selling or trafficking the ancient artifact. A British Columbia provincial court fined him $4,000.

Authorities say “a fairly active” black market exists for fossils from the Burgess Shale with values ranging from $300 or $400 for common trilobite fossils. Larger and rarer fossils can sell for $ 10,000 or more.
The Burgess Shale Formation is located in the Canadian Rockies of British Columbia. It is one of the world's most celebrated fossil fields and is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. It is famous for the exceptional preservation of the soft parts of its fossils.

At 508 million years (Middle Cambrian) old, it is one of the earliest fossil beds containing soft-part imprints.
Burgess Shale contains the best record we have of Cambrian animal fossils. It reveals creatures originating from the Cambrian explosion, an evolutionary burst of animal origins dating 545 to 525 million years ago.
During this period, life was restricted to the world's oceans. The land was barren, uninhabited, and subject to mudslides which periodically rolled into the seas and buried marine organisms.

At Burgess, sediment was deposited in a deep-water basin adjacent to an enormous algal reef with a vertical escarpment several hundred meters high.

The Burgess Shale fossils have been called the world’s most significant fossil discovery because of their great age, their diversity and the detail of their preservation.