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Detailed information on the exhibits, research projects, and programs tailored for journalists. For more information or questions please contact Burke Museum Public Relations.

July 16, 2004

Evolution’s Big Bang

Nov. 20, 2004–March 6, 2005

SeattleThe Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture is showcasing the Smithsonian exhibit, The Burgess Shale: Evolution's Big Bang, this fall. This exhibit tells the story of the most important fossil site in Northwestern North America: The fossils of the Burgess Shale provided the world's first window on early multi-cellular life.
Located high in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia in Canada's Yoho National Park, the fossils were discovered in 1909. The extraordinarily diverse, 505-million-year-old fossils include the ancestors of virtually all known living animalsas well as mysterious and still controversial creatures unlike any known today.

The Burgess Shale has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is still being actively excavated and researched.

See fossils and drawings of the odd shaped, curious-looking creatures discovered on the historical site. Ranked as one of the 20th century's most significant paleontological discoveries, the Burgess Shale was discovered in 1909 by Charles Walcott, then secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

The exhibit explores current theories about the "Cambrian Explosion" (543 million-490 million years ago)a burst of evolutionary activity that generated a sudden increase in the complexity and variety of animal lifeand presents highlights from the story of early life on Earth. Detailed descriptions and illustrations of the extraordinary creatures found in the Burgess Shale are combined in the exhibit with the stories and methods of the paleontologists who have studied these fossils.

Many of the fossils found in the Burgess shale are among the earliest representations of virtually all-modern, multi-cellular animals. Others appear unrelated to any living forms and their later disappearance presents an intriguing mystery to paleontologists The exhibit was developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History's Department of Paleobiology. Exhibition curator Douglas H. Erwin is the co-author of The Fossils of the Burgess Shale.

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The Burke is located at the corner of NE 45th St and 17th Ave NE on the UW campus. Hours are 10 am-5 pm daily, and until 8 pm Thursday. The Museum Store and Museum Caf are also open during these hours. Admission to the permanent exhibits is $6.50 general, $5 senior, $3 student/youth, FREE to Burke members, children 5 and under, UW faculty, students, and staff. Admission to the special exhibition is $8 general, $6.50 senior, $5 student/youth.. Out of the Silence is FREE to Burke members, children 5 and under, UW faculty, students, and staff. For 24-hour information, please call 206-543-5590, or visit http://www.burkemuseum.org.

(206) 543-9762; FAX (206) 616-1274