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Surprising Shrimp at the Burgess Shale



Surprising Shrimp at the Burgess Shale
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 4
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   3.6

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    arthropod, discs, shrimpy, soft-bodied, whoosh, snout, swallowed, underwater, sticking, surprising, cushion, spikes, wiggly, nearly, giant, fossil
     content words:    Charles Walcott, Burgess Shale, Cambrian Period


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Surprising Shrimp at the Burgess Shale
By Colleen Messina
  

1     What would you think if you found a fossil that looked like a shrimp? That is what happened to Charles Walcott in 1909. He was on a fossil hunt in Canada. He found a big rock with a surprising number of fossils in it! Many of the fossils were gigantic shrimp!
 
2     The rock was called the Burgess Shale. Charles was excited. He was a paleontologist, or someone who studies fossils. This was the best thing he had ever found! The Burgess Shale had fossils of odd sea animals in it. That might seem weird because the rock is not underwater any more! But long ago, the area was an ocean. Then something terrible happened. A huge whoosh shook the sea. It was an avalanche! The odd creatures were covered by soft mud. They became fossils. Too bad for them, but lucky for us!
 
3     The fossils in the Burgess Shale were from the Cambrian Period. That started about 540 million years ago! Earth was warm then. There was one big continent and several smaller ones. The sea flooded many spots. These places were like bathtubs full of life! One common animal was the giant shrimp.

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