Curator of Invertebrate Palaeontology
Area: Natural History, Fossils & Evolution
Interests: Burgess Shale, Cambrian Explosion, Evolution, Origin of animals, Palaeocology
Exhibitions & Galleries: Gallery of Early Life
B.Sc., Earth and Life Sciences, University Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand, 1997
M.Sc., Earth Sciences, University Claude-Bernard, Lyon, 1999
Ph.D., Zoology, University of Toronto, 2005
Jean-Bernard Caron is Curator of Invertebrate Palaeontology at the ROM.
Previous position held at the ROM: Associate Curator of Invertebrate Palaeontology (2006-2010)
A profound curiosity about fossils during his childhood led Jean-Bernard Caron to collect and curate his own personal fossil collection in his native France. By the age of 10, he knew he wanted to become a professional palaeontologist. As a teenager, he often joined various professional field crews across Europe for summer field expeditions collecting fossils, and the experience gained as a volunteer field assistant led to an invitation from Desmond Collins, then Curator of Invertebrate Palaeontology at the ROM, to join his field crew at the famous Burgess Shale fossil deposit in British Columbia in 1998. This was his first visit to Canada, and he returned to the Burgess Shale as a ROM volunteer for the following two summer field seasons.
His Master's thesis dealt with Banffia constricta, one of the most bizarre animals known from the Burgess Shale. This study was followed by a PhD on the taphonomy and paleoecology of the Burgess Shale community. By the end of his PhD project, Jean-Bernard had examined about half the Burgess Shale specimens (more than 70,000 fossils) stored at the ROM, which houses over 150,000 specimens, representing the world’s largest collection of its kind. After being awarded a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council post-doctoral fellowship (Government of Canada), he joined the ROM as Associate Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology in early 2006, thus finally fulfilling his long-standing childhood dream.
At present, his main responsibilities are to curate and interpret fossils from the very large ROM Burgess Shale collection as well as to continue fieldwork activities. The ROM collection represents a real Pandora’s Box for science, with many new organisms still to be described. He also studies fossils from other Burgess Shale-type deposits, particularly in China.
At the end of 2011, Jean-Bernard launched the "Virtual Museum of Canada website on the Burgess Shale", a joint effort between the ROM and Parks Canada. This bilingual website has received over 200.000 visitors since Jan 1st, 2012.
Follow Jean-Bernard Caron on ROM BLOG:
- Jan 18-2013: My Journey with Sir David Attenborough
- July 31-2013: Thorny worm that swarmed in the Cambrian seas
- Feb 11-2014: Mighty Burgess Shale site discovered in Kootenay National Park
June 11-2014: A Fish with a Big Bang
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS:
Jean-Bernard was the recipient of the 2010 Pikaia award from the Canadian Geological Association in recognition of his contribution to the profile of Canadian paleontology through his research. The nomination citation (PDF) praised him as "an exceptionally innovative and productive young paleontologist who shows promise for continuing excellence in Canadian paleontological research."
Jean-Bernard received two awards for "Virtual Museum of Canada website on the Burgess Shale": the Paleontological Association Golden Trilobite Award (2011) and the Ontario Museum Association Award for Excellence in Publications (2012).
Jean-Bernard's research at the ROM is partially funded by an NSERC Discovery grant (2012-2017) under the program, "Palaeobiology and community analysis of the Burgess Shale biota," see Research Page for more information.
See also Focus on Research page.
Karma Nanglu (PhD) - (2013-current)
Cédric Aria (PhD) - (2012-current)
Lorna O'Brien (PhD) completed (2008-2013)
Martin Smith (PhD) completed (2008-2012)
Allison Daley (PhD) completed (2006-2010)
Google scholar profile, with list of citations, click here.
*Doctoral research supervised or co-supervised
Nanglu, K., Caron, J.-B., and Cameron, C. B., (2015). Using experimental decay of modern forms to reconstruct the early evolution and morphology of fossil enteropneusts. Paleobiology, v. 41, no. 03, p. 460-478.
- Aria, C. & Caron J.-B. (2015). Cephalic and limb anatomy of a new isoxyid from the Burgess Shale and the role of “stem bivalved arthropods” in the disparity of the frontalmost appendage. PloS one 10(6):e0124979.
- Aria, C., Caron, J.-B., and Gaines, R. (2015) A large new leanchoiliid from the Burgess Shale and the influence of inapplicable states on stem arthropod phylogeny. Palaeontology (doi: 10.1111/pala.12161).
Topper, T. P., Strotz, L. C., Holmer, L. E., Zhang, Z., Tait, N. N., & Caron, J.-B. (2015) Competition and mimicry: the curious case of chaetae in brachiopods from the middle Cambrian Burgess Shale. BMC Evolutionary Biology, v. 15, no. 42.
LoDuca, S. T., Caron, J.-B., Schiffbauer, J. D., Xiao, S. & Kramer, A. (2015) A reexamination of Yuknessia from the Cambrian of British Columbia and Utah. Journal of Paleontology, v. 89, no. 01, p. 82-95.
- Topper, T. P., Holmer L. E. & Caron J.-B. (2014) Brachiopods hitching a ride: an early case of commensalism in the middle Cambrian Burgess Shale. Scientific Reports 4.
- Conway Morris, S. & Caron J.-B. (2014) "A primitive fish from the Cambrian of North America." Nature. 512(7515):419-422.
- O'Brien, L. J., Caron J.-B., & Gaines R. R. (2014). Taphonomy and depositional setting of the Burgess Shale Tulip Beds, Mount Stephen, British Columbia. PALAIOS 29 (6):309-324.
- Caron, J.-B., Gaines R. R., Aria, C., Mángano M. G. & M. Streng (2014) "A new phyllopod bed-like assemblage from the Burgess Shale of the Canadian Rockies." Nature Communications 5.
- Zhao, F., Caron, J.-B., Bottjer, D., Hu, S., Yin, Z., & Zhu, M. (2013). Diversity and species abundance patterns of the early Cambrian (Series 2, Stage 3) Chengjiang Biota from China: Paleobiology, v. 40, no. 1, p. 50-69
- Caron J.-B., Smith M. & Harvey T.H.P. (2013) Beyond the Burgess Shale: Cambrian microfossils track the rise and fall of hallucigeniid lobopodians. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 280 20131613. First published online July 31st, 2013 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2013.1613).
- Haug, J., Caron, J.-B. & Haug, C. (2013) Demecology in the Cambrian -- synchronized molting in arthropods from the Burgess Shale. BMC Biology 11, 64. doi:10.1186/1741-7007-11-64
- *Smith, M. (2013) Nectocaridid ecology, diversity and affinity: early origin of a cephalopod-like body plan. Paleobiology 39, 345-357.
- *Daley A, Budd G, & Caron, J.-B. (2013) Morphology and systematics of the anomalocaridid arthropod Hurdia from the Middle Cambrian of British Columbia and Utah. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology First published online 22 Mar 2013. doi:10.1080/14772019.2012.732723
- Caron J-B, Conway Morris S & Cameron C. (2013) Tubicolous enteropneusts from the Cambrian period. Nature Advance Online Publication. doi:10.1038/nature12017
- Legg DA, Sutton MD, Edgecombe GD, & Caron J.-B. (2012) Cambrian bivalved arthropod reveals origin of arthrodization. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 279(1748):4699-4704.
- *Smith M. (2012) Mouthparts of the Burgess Shale fossils Odontogriphus and Wiwaxia: implications for the ancestral molluscan radula. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 279 (1745):4287-4295.
- Zhao F., Hu S., Caron J.-B., Zhu M., Yin Z. & Lu M. (2012) Spatial variation in the diversity and composition of the Lower Cambrian (Series 2, Stage 3) Chengjiang Biota, Southwest China. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 346-347:54-65.
- Conway Morris S & Caron J.-B. (2012) Pikaia gracilens Walcott, a stem-group chordate from the Middle Cambrian of British Columbia. Biological Reviews 87(2): 480-512.
- Minter NJ, Mángano MG & Caron J.-B. (2012) Skimming the surface with Burgess Shale arthropod locomotion. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 279(1733):1613-1620.
- *O'Brien LJ & Caron J.-B. (2012) A New Stalked Filter-Feeder from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale, British Columbia, Canada. PLoS ONE 7(1):e29233.
- *Smith M & Caron J.-B. (2010) Primitive soft-bodied cephalopods from the Cambrian. Nature 465(7297):469-472.
- Caron J.-B., Gaines R, Mangano G, Streng M, & Daley A (2010) A new Burgess Shale-type assemblage from the "thin" Stephen Formation of the Southern Canadian Rockies. Geology 38(9):811-814.
- Caron J.-B., Conway Morris S, & Shu D (2010) Tentaculate fossils from the Cambrian of Canada (British Columbia) and China (Yunnan) interpreted as primitive Deuterostomes. PLoS ONE 5(3):1-13.
- Zhao F, Caron J-B, Hu SX, & Zhu M (2009) Quantitative analysis of taphofacies and paleocommunities in the Early Cambrian Chengjiang Lagerstätte. PALAIOS 24:826-839.
- *Daley AC, Budd GE, Caron J.-B., Edgecombe GD, & Collins D (2009) The Burgess Shale anomalocaridid Hurdia and its significance for early euarthropod evolution. Science 323:1597-1600.
- Caron J.-B. & Jackson DA (2008) Paleoecology of the Greater Phyllopod Bed community, Burgess Shale. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 258:222-256.
- Caron J.-B. (2008) Palaeontology: Ancient worms in armour. Nature 451(7175):133-134.
- Vannier, J., Caron, J.-B., Yuan, J. L., Briggs, D., Collins, D., Zhao, Y. L., and Zhu, M.Y. (2007) Tuzoia: morphology and lifestyle of a giant bivalved arthropod of the Cambrian seas. Journal of Paleontology 81:445-471.
- Conway Morris S & Caron J.-B. (2007) Halwaxiids and the early evolution of the lophotrochozoans. Science 315:1255-1258.
- Caron J.-B., Scheltema AH, Schander C, & Rudkin D (2007) Reply to Butterfield on stem-group "worms:" fossil lophotrochozoans in the Burgess Shale. BioEssays 29:200-202.
- Caron J.-B., Scheltema AH, Schander C, & Rudkin D (2006) A soft-bodied mollusc with radula from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale. Nature 442:159-163.
- Caron J.-B. & Jackson DA (2006) Taphonomy of the Greater Phyllopod Bed Community, Burgess Shale. PALAOIS 21:451-465.
- Caron J.-B. (2005) Banffia constricta, a putative vetulicolid from the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale. Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 96:95-111.
Documentaries related to the Burgess Shale
- 2009-The Nature of Things (Gone Sideways with David Suzuki)
- 2010-First Life by Sir David Attenborough
- 2014-BBC Fossil Wonderlands by Richard Fortey
- 2015-TFO (In French)
- 2015-NHK (In Japanese)
Media related to recent fielwork
- 2014-Marble Canyon (GEO magazine - in German) by Susanne Paulsen
- 2015-Marble Canyon (Globe & Mail) by Ivan Semeniuk
- 2015-Marble Canyon (New Scientist) by Bob Holmes
Other relevant stories about the Burgess Shale
- Burgess Shale Fieldguide (PDF)
Centennial of the Burgess Shale discovery:
- Parks Canada;
- Shale of the century: mining the rich seam of the Burgess Shale;
- The Burgess Shale: Evolution's Big Bang
- Re-examining the Burgess Shale
- International Conference on the Cambrian Explosion - Banff, Alberta, August 3-7, 2009 (Note: The conference is now over, but click to see abstracts and group picture.)
The Cambrian radiation represents the sudden worldwide appearance and rapid diversification of animals.