Dawn of Life Preview | Rotunda, Level 2

  • Photo of a fossil
    Dunkleosteus intermedius. Though only the bony head shield is seen here, the body of this now extinct behemoth would have been over 9 metres long. Dunkleosteus ruled the ancient Late Devonian seas of what is now Ohio, about 360 million years ago.
  • Photo of a fossil
    Eramoscorpius brucensis . This is one of the oldest known true scorpions ever found! The fossil was collected from the Bruce Penninsula, Ontario, and is approximately 430 million years old.
  • Photo of a fossil
    Selenopeltis buchii (large spinose form) and Dalmanitina species. This wonderful slab from Morocco shows two different species of trilobite. It dates to the Late Ordovician, about 450 million years ago.
  • Photo of a fossil
    Nectocaris pteryx. Nectocaris was a free-swimming, squid-like predator from the famous 508-million-year-old Burgess Shale fossil site in the mountains of British Columbia.
  • Photo of a fossil
    Hallucigenia sparsa. Also from the Burgess Shale fossil site in British Columbia (around 508 million years old), Hallucigenia is a bizarre-looking ancient relative of the velvet worms. After over 100 years of uncertainty recent ROM research has finally correctly identified the head of the animal!
  • Photo of a fossil
    Metaspriggina walcotti. Metaspriggina was a primitive fish and likely one of our distant relatives! It is one of the star fossils of Marble Canyon, the new Burgess Shale site discovered by the ROM in 2012 in Kootenay National Park.

In anticipation of the new Dawn of Life gallery, which will be home to the ROM’s world renowned collection of Burgess Shale specimens, the Museum will have a special display of spectacular pieces that will introduce how the new gallery will present, interpret, and explain fossil life.

These specimens will give a sneak peek into the remarkable history of life on Earth before the dinosaurs, and how the Earth has changed drastically over time. Some of the pieces identified have been in the ROM’s vaults for decades, or were acquired specifically for the new Dawn of Life gallery, and will be a unique experience for visitors.


Many of the fossils presented in this exhibit have been the focus of exciting new ROM research. See below for a more in-depth look at just a few of these fascinating stories published by ROM Curator Jean-Bernard Caron.

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