Definition of Burgess Shale in English:

Burgess Shale

proper noun

  • A stratum of sedimentary rock exposed in the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia, Canada. The bed, dated to the Cambrian period (about 540 million years ago), is rich in well-preserved fossils of early marine invertebrates, many of which represent evolutionary lineages unknown in later times.

    • ‘The best-known of these sites is the legendary Burgess Shale in the British Columbian Rocky Mountains.’
    • ‘Patrick Orr, now at the National University of Ireland in Galway, and I decided to analyse some Burgess Shale fossils by mapping the distribution of elements using an electron microprobe.’
    • ‘Pictured above is Canadia, from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale of British Columbia.’


Named after the Burgess Pass, British Columbia, where the shale outcrops.