On the 30th
, near Mount Burgess in the Canadian Rockies, near Field, British Columbia Charles Doolittle Walcott
stumbled on to a fossil bed. But of course he stumbled on to it, why do you think they call them the Rockies? My uninformed guess is that they’re called that probably because of all the rocks there, which have a tendency to make walking problematic. What Walcott found was an area which was extraordinarily rich in fossil specimens not previously seen anywhere in the world. There were some rather ordinary specimens of trilobites (Which apparently a dime a dozen in some places.) but there was an overwhelming presence of fossils unique to what would come be referred to as the Burgess Shale fossil beds. One of my favorites is the Hallucigenia sparsa, probably because it has such a neat name. It seems that this little darling walked on bilaterally symmetrical spines: that has got to be tough. Another one that caught my fancy was Opabinia, which had five eyes and ‘a snout like a vacuum cleaner.’ How cool is that? My hat’s off to Mr. Walcott. Now for that to be a meaningful gesture I suppose I’ll have to go out and get a hat.