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Canada Science

Massive New Cambrian-Era Fossil Bed Found 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the long-term-storage dept.
jfbilodeau sends word of a massive new trove of fossils located in Canada, which scientists say will rival the acclaimed Burgess Shale fossil bed. The rock formation inside which both fossil sites were found is roughly 505 million years old (abstract). The fossils provide insight into the Cambrian explosion, a time that brought the rapid appearance and diversification of many animal forms. "In just two weeks, the research team collected more than 3,000 fossils representing 55 species. Fifteen of these species are new to science." Paleontologist Jean-Bernard Caron said, "The rate at which we are finding animals — many of which are new — is astonishing, and there is a high possibility that we'll eventually find more species here than at the original Yoho National Park site, and potentially more than from anywhere else in the world." The fossils at the new site are about 100,000 years younger and are better preserved than those at the renowned Burgess shale site.
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Massive New Cambrian-Era Fossil Bed Found

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  • The difference between groups and individuals is sexual individuals specialize to create asexual groups and asexual cells specialize to create sexual individuals. http://archive.org/stream/Huma... [archive.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:11PM (#46221259)

    Or because it is not in the US it doesn't exist?

  • Unknown species (Score:5, Interesting)

    by symes (835608) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:13PM (#46221291) Journal

    I am not a paleontologist and was surprised that 15 of the 55 species found were previously unknown. I really thought we knew more. Is it possible that a significant find could radically change the way we think of the past?

    • Re:Unknown species (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RichMan (8097) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:19PM (#46221385)

      The fossil record is mainly a few specific locations, each location being a small time window of that location.
      Without visiting the Gallapagos islands all those distinct species would never have been observed.

      The fossil record is like looking through a tiny peephole at the crowd of life.

      There can also be a lot of confusion between juviniles and adults of species. Are they distinct species or not? Sometimes the body size and skeletal formation can be quite different between the young and the old.

    • Re:Unknown species (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GameboyRMH (1153867) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {hmryobemag}> on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:22PM (#46221435) Journal

      Radically? I'd say not from a layman's point of view. The biggest that happened in my lifetime is probably finding organ details of dinosaurs that indicate they weren't cold-blooded like modern lizards.

      It shouldn't be a surprise that so many species have gone unknown, especially as far back as the Cambrian period. The odds of a creature being fossilized are very low after all.

      • Radically? I'd say not from a layman's point of view. The biggest that happened in my lifetime is probably finding organ details of dinosaurs that indicate they weren't cold-blooded like modern lizards.

        It shouldn't be a surprise that so many species have gone unknown, especially as far back as the Cambrian period. The odds of a creature being fossilized are very low after all.

        I'm not sure that being endothermic was such a shock to me.

        Putting feathers on T-Rex, however...

      • by HiThere (15173)

        Depends on the layman. Still, there could be species that are radically different from any currently extant. E.g., I believe that all current species that have blood rather than ichor use either copper or iron as an oxygen transporter...but there could be something else. Also, all known species use 4 DNA codons (AGTC) or RNA codons (substituting Uracil for one of those...I'd need to look up which). It could be that there were earlier species that had more (or fewer) than four. That would be pretty much

    • Re:Unknown species (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:38PM (#46221623)

      I really thought we knew more.

      We don't. We're aware of a tiny fraction what was around then... and usually only animals that had skeletons. Think of sharks... the only reason we know how long they've been around if because we find their teeth. There could have been entire species of invertebrates that ruled the earth and we'd have little chance of ever finding out.

      • by Type44Q (1233630)

        There could have been entire species of invertebrates that ruled the earth and we'd have little chance of ever finding out.

        The New Slashdot:

        A) Cue the Cthulhu jokes

        B) Crickets chirping...

    • We've found a lot of fossils, from thousands of sites like this one around the world.

      Take nets the size of an average fossil site, scatter 10,000 of them at random sites around the planet today, look at what you just caught. Now, take one more net and throw it at a new location - did you just catch anything new or different? Now, throw in the dimension of time - this site is geographically close to other well studied fossil sites, but displaced 100,000 years in time.

      Satellite communications and jet travel

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Savage-Rabbit (308260)

      I am not a paleontologist and was surprised that 15 of the 55 species found were previously unknown. I really thought we knew more. Is it possible that a significant find could radically change the way we think of the past?

      Well, if we find rabbit bones stuck between the teeth of a Tyrannosaurus Rex we'll have to give creationism a second though.

    • Of course. Especially of eras such as this that we really know little about. The entire name Cambrian Explosion came about because of the scarcity of any fossils before that period. Then we started finding their ancestors and the explosion now just looks like an expansion of certain characteristics.
    • by quantaman (517394)

      I'm not surprised we're finding new species back then as we're still finding new species now [yale.edu].

      Also consider between Yoho and Kootnay we may not be getting precisely the same habitat. Just go for a walk outside and the ecosystem can vary wildly within a small geographic area. And with a 100,000 year gap (not sure how accurate that number is) that's enough time for a few new species to evolve, go extinct, or even migrate into or out of that ecosystem depending on climate conditions. Just 10,000-12,000 years ag

    • by u38cg (607297)
      We don't even know jack about humans... [bbc.co.uk]
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:29PM (#46221523) Journal
    Cambrian explosion is one of the most misunderstood terms, sometimes very willfully misrepresented. The "explosion" unfloded over a minimum of 10 million years, but more likely estimate is between 20 and 50 million years. For a species that has been in existence for less than 0.1 million years, belonging to a genus existing for less than 3 million years calling this an "explosion" is incomprehensible. Tool usage is less than 2 million years old. Fire has been tamed for 0.5 million years. Language is probably 0.075 million years old. Domestication of animals is 0.015 million years old. Plants> 0.01 million years, writing is 0.005 million years old. Metallurgy is 0.004 million years old at most. Now try to imagine how long 10 million years was.

    All that happened was the emergence of bones/shells. This was the first thing that could fossilize. Everything earlier had just soft tissues and they did not fossilize well. So there was an "explosion" of fossilization, not necessarily speciation.

    • by rasmusbr (2186518) on Tuesday February 11, 2014 @04:50PM (#46221795)

      TFA goes into exactly that aspect. Apparently they found species at this site that are also present in a 10 million years older site in China, so unless these critters had access to time travel they could not exactly have been evolving at an explosive rate.

    • by HiThere (15173)

      Where did you get that idea that tool usage is recent? People and Chimpanzees both use tools, so the conservative assumption would be that tool use pre-dates the split between the species. And it's not like it requires immense brain power. Crows use tools. Some of Darwin's Finches use tools. And many others. (Too many to list.)

      The problem is, most of the tools are wood or straw, so they don't tend to be preserved. The ones I listed are all modern species, and the reason for that is that if we didn't

    • by epine (68316)

      Metallurgy is 0.004 million years old at most. Now try to imagine how long 10 million years was.

      I have a very good idea of the durations in question. Once I read an interview with an accountant who balanced Uncle Sam's accounts by day and her own household accounts in her non-work hours. Her quote: "It's pretty much the same thing, you just shift some zeroes."

      A new car is $0.000,000,030 trillion dollars, which puts the recent Wall St. bail-out into good perspective.

      You almost seem to be complaining that t

  • by Anonymous Coward
    48 comments before this, and 28 of them taking stabs at the fundamentalist anti-dinosaur strawman. I came for a fight and wasn't disappointed. Never mind that the other side didn't even show up.
    • by umghhh (965931)
      I just saw this: " Get more comments 82 of 79 loaded " and I am still using classic - if betta is worse than this .....

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