Trilobites of the Burgess Shale, Canada
Locality: Yoho National Park, Canadian Rockies, southern British Columbia, Canada
Stratigraphy: Stephen Formation
Age: Late Middle Cambrian. ca 505 mya

The famous Phyllopod Beds of the Walcott Quarry. Image from The Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation

Location of the Burgess Shale lagerstatte today
Locality of Burgess Shale during the Early Cambrian

The Burgess Shale biota, first discovered by Charles Doolittle Walcott in 1909, was revolutionary as the first indication of the great diversity of soft-bodied animals that normally do not fossilize. This window on the diversity of the upper middle Cambrian fueled debates regarding the "Cambrian Explosion" and the origins of phylum-level diversity. As in the Chengjiang lagerstatte, soft-bodied animals are preserved in the Burgess Shale, revealing a great diversity of early arthropods, as well as such curiosities as anomalocaridids and Hallucigenia. Unlike Chengjiang, where only four species of trilobites are known, 13 genera of trilobites have been recorded in the Burgess Shale, though trilobites make up a small percentage of the total  fauna. Here are four representative species:

Pagetia bootes
(Walcott 1916)
Olenoides serratus
(Rominger 1887)
Chancia palliserae
(Mansuy 1912)
Oryctocephalus burgessensis
(Kobayashi 1944)
Some trilobite specimens from the Burgess Shale have their soft parts preserved, such as antennae and limbs, as is apparent in the remarkable Olenoides serratus specimen above. It is notable that the trilobite fauna of the Burgess Shale, being a late Middle Cambrian locality, is not dominated by Redlichiida as at Chengjiang, but by a mix of Ptychopariida, Corynexochida, and Agnostida. In addition to trilobites, there were other species of arachnomorph (trilobite-like clade) arthropods such as Helmetia, Tegopeltes, and Naraoia. These trilobite-like arthropods demonstrate that the group from which trilobites arose was itself successful and diverse, though being uncalcified, are only preserved at exceptional lagerstatten such as the Burgess Shale and Chengjiang. Because the Burgess Shale was the first lagerstatte with such exceptional preservation, other sites with similar preservation are referred to as "Burgess Shale type" lagerstatten.

Order Ptychopariida
Chancia palliseri (Walcott 1908)
Ehmaniella buregessensis Rasetti 1951
Ehmaniella waptaensis Rasetti 1951
Elrathia permulta (Walcott 1918)
Elrathina cf brevifrons Rasetti 1951
Elrathina cordillerae (Rominger 1887)
Spencella sp. 1
Spensella sp. 2

Order Corynexochida
Hanburia gloriosa Walcott 1916
Kootenia burgessensis Resser 1942
Olenoides serratus Rominger 1887
Oryctocephalus burgessensis Resser 1938
Oryctocephalus matthewi Rasetti 1951
Oryctocephalus reynoldsi Reed 1899
Oryctocephalus sp. indet.
Parkaspis decamera Rasetti 1951

Order Agnostida
Pagetia bootes Walcott 1916
Peronopsis montis (Matthew 1899)
Ptychagnostus praecurrens (Westergaard 1936)

Some of the diversity of the Burgess Shale biota is depicted in the drawing above by Sam Gon III and John Whorrall.
Trilobites such as Olenoides serratus (1) were a minority among a diversity of arthropods such as Sidneyia (9),
(17), Helmetia (13), Sanctacaris (18), Tegopelte (15), Naraoia (16), Leanchoilia (10), Canadaspis (12),
Odaraia (19), Marrella (11), and Burgessia (14), as well as oddities such as Opabinia (24), Wiwaxia (26),
(20), and the giant predator, Anomalocaris (28).
Some Burgess Shale literature:

Briggs, D.E.G., D.H. Erwin & F.J. Collier. 1994. The Fossils of the Burgess Shale. 238 pp. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C.

Whittington, H.B. 1985. The Burgess Shale. Yale University Press, New Haven.

The Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation
Related trilobite locality: Chengjiang, China
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Walking Trilobite animation ©2000 by S. M. Gon III
last revised 27 APR 2005 by S.M. Gon III