The Cambrian Explosion: A profound change in life on Earth

A new fossil assemblage from the Burgess Shale and the flowering of complex life is the subject of a lecture June 15 at the CHC

  • Jun. 12, 2016 12:00 p.m.
The Cambrian Explosion — a profound change in life on Earth — will be the subject of a free lecture at the Cranbrook History Centre Wednesday

The Cambrian Explosion — a profound change in life on Earth — will be the subject of a free lecture at the Cranbrook History Centre Wednesday

Barry Coulter

The Cranbrook History Centre continues to bring the deep past alive, with an ongoing series of lectures concerning the East Kootenay’s considerable fossil record — in particular the “Cambrian Explosion,” a period that is well-represented locally.

A remarkable new fossil assemblage from the Burgess Shale at Marble Canyon and the flowering of complex life on Earth is the subject of a lecture Wednesday, June 15. Bob Gaines, a Professor of Geology at Pomona College in Claremont, California, will be speaking at 7 p.m. at Cranbrook’s Royal Alexandra Hall.

The Cambrian was the first geological period of the Paleozoic Era, lasting from 541 to 485.4 million years ago. The Cambrian marked a profound change in life on Earth. Previously, the majority of living organisms on the whole were small, unicellular and simple. The rapid diversification of lifeforms in the Cambrian, known as the Cambrian explosion, produced the first representatives of all modern animal phyla.

Bob Gaines from Pomona College

Gaines, whose interest in the Cambrian period began at age five with a trilobite, given to him by his mother, has been working in the Burgess Shale since 2008 and was a member of the 2012 team that discovered the Marble Canyon Locality.

His work on the Cambrian period goes back nearly 20 years to his Ph.D. work on exceptional Cambrian fossil deposits from Utah.

He holds a BS from the College of William and Mary, an MS from the University of Cincinnati and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Riverside.

Gaines is returning to Cranbrook after spending several weeks digging in the Eager Formation with Guy Santucci and colleagues last year. He will be speaking on the discoveries made in the Burgess Shale and Marble Canyon as well as other incredible specimens that have been found in this area.

A special announcement will be made during the evening as well.

Refreshments will be served at 8 p.m.