Burgess Shale-type faunas are now known from almost 40 lower and middle Cambrian localities, although those from British Columbia (Canada), Yunnan (China) and Peary Land (Greenland) are of paramount significance. The diverse faunas are dominated by animals with an otherwise negligible fossilization potential, and their stratigraphical position makes them of unique importance in documenting the major adaptive radiations at this time (‘Cambrian explosion’).
Important features of these faunas include the presence of taxa surviving from the late Precambrian Ediacaran faunas, the discovery of articulated material that throws new light on scleritome organization in various Cambrian skeletal taxa, and the significance of the degree of anatomical disparity among Cambrian animals. In addition, these soft-bodied faunas offer some hope of reconciling soft-part data with trace fossil occurrences. New discoveries of Burgess Shale-type faunas are inevitable, and such finds will continue to enhance our understanding of early animal evolution.