Abstract

The middle (Wuliuan Stage) Cambrian Burgess Shale is famous for its exceptional preservation of diverse and abundant soft-bodied animals through the “thick” Stephen Formation. However, with the exception of the Walcott Quarry (Fossil Ridge) and the stratigraphically older Tulip Beds (Mount Stephen), which are both in Yoho National Park (British Columbia), quantitative assessments of the Burgess Shale have remained limited. Here we first provide a detailed quantitative overview of the diversity and structure of the Marble Canyon Burgess Shale locality based on 16,438 specimens. Located 40 km southeast of the Walcott Quarry in Kootenay National Park (British Columbia), Marble Canyon represents the youngest site of the “thick” Stephen Formation. We then combine paleoecological data sets from Marble Canyon, Walcott Quarry, Tulip Beds, and Raymond Quarry, which lies approximately 20 m directly above the Walcott Quarry, to yield a combined species abundance data set of 77,179 specimens encompassing 234 species-level taxa. Marble Canyon shows significant temporal changes in both taxonomic and ecological groups, suggesting periods of stasis followed by rapid turnover patterns at local and short temporal scales. At wider geographic and temporal scales, the different Burgess Shale sites occupy distinct areas in multivariate space. Overall, this suggests that the Burgess Shale paleocommunity is far patchier than previously thought and varies at both local and regional scales through the “thick” Stephen Formation. This underscores that our understanding of Cambrian diversity and ecological networks, particularly in early animal ecosystems, remains limited and highly dependent on new discoveries.

You do not currently have access to this article.