Spence Shale Fossils

spenceshalefossils.com

Spence Shale Fossils specializes in rare middle Cambrian trilobites, echinoderms, and soft-bodied fossils from Utah's Spence Shale, as well as providing fossil preparation services.

Miner's Hollow - A view looking southeast up Miner's Hollow, Wellsville Mountains.  Rugged terrain and impenetrable outcrops keep many collectors away.

A view looking southeast up Miner's Hollow, Wellsville Mountains.

Rugged terrain and impenetrable outcrops keep many collectors away.

The middle Cambrian Spence Shale has been collected recreationally and scientifically for over 100 years. Containing over 50 described trilobite species, plus a wide variety of echinoderms and soft-tissue animals, the Spence Shale is among the most diverse middle Cambrian faunas in the world.

Somewhat older than the famed Burgess Shale of British Columbia, as well as Utah's other well-known middle Cambrian fossil-bearing formations, the Spence Shale shows some faunal overlap with those units, including the fabled Anomalocaris. None-the-less, the Spence fauna is largely unique, with many taxa being known only from these rocks. And though many publications have been written about these animals, surprisingly little work has been done in recent times, particularly on the trilobites. Renewed attention to these animals is bringing new taxa to light.

Spence Depositional Environment - The depositional environment of the Spence Shale is interpreted as being outer detrital belt. (Liddell, Wright, Brett,  BYU Geology Studies, 1997)

The depositional environment of the Spence Shale is interpreted as being outer detrital belt.

(Liddell, Wright, Brett, BYU Geology Studies, 1997)

Until relatively recently, fossils of the Spence Shale were considered to be largely unpreparable. Though preparation is difficult and slow, it certainly is possible as the photographs on these pages attest. Due to the pioneering work of a few collectors and preparators in recent years, many of the Spence animals are just now being seen for the first time, complete and in high relief with well-mineralized shell. A new age of discovery has begun in the Spence Shale, and due to the lease of outcroppings on private land, these animals are for the first time available for commerce.

There are few common fossils in the Spence Shale, other than some brachiopods and hyoliths. Preservation occurs along a broad continuum of styles and quality, and prices will reflect this. A few species are relatively abundant, but even with these, excellent specimens are few and far between.....just ask anyone who has ever collected the Spence. Rugged terrain and difficult access, coupled with impenetrable outcrops, make specimens from the Spence Shale highly prized additions to any collection.

Paul on Kootenia quarry ledge - Paul Jamison collecting the Spence Shale on a ledge in the  Wellsville Mountains.

Paul Jamison collecting the Spence Shale on a ledge

in the Wellsville Mountains.

It is our goal to provide a broad range of material for the casual collector as well as for the advanced and specialized. But it is our particular pleasure to bring you one of the first looks at the Spence Shale as rarely seen before, including some of the finest specimens ever collected. If you don't see what you're looking for, please feel free to contact us. Enjoy!

Paul Jamison Digger, Preparator

Spence Shale Fossils

View South from Miner's - View looking south at sunset from our lease in the Wellsville Mountains.

View looking south at sunset from our lease

in the Wellsville Mountains.