Browsing the "Cambrian" Category

The Cambrian period is a division of earth’s history spanning from around 541 to 485 million years ago, and during which animal ecosystems rapidly appeared in an event known as the ‘Cambrian explosion’. Cambrian faunas were dominated by arthropods such as trilobites, but also included sponges, molluscs, brachiopods, jellyfish and chordates (the group to which vertebrates belong). The Cambrian atmosphere had 16 times greater CO2 content and 37% less oxygen than the present. It was a warm period with temperatures on average around 7°C above present levels. The continents were all positioned in the southern hemisphere but were drifting steadily north. During the Cambrian, land was barren and lifeless.


Feeding and the digestive system in early animals

Published on October 29th, 2015 | by Liz Martin

Two new studies lead by University of Bristol palaeontologist Dr. Imran Rahman (Episode 28 – From worms to stars) are helping to explain feeding and the digestive system in some early animals. His work focuses on [&hellip... Read More



Episode 48: The Burgess Shale

Published on July 17th, 2015 | by Dave Marshall

The Burgess Shale is probably the world’s most famous lagerstätte (site of special preservation). Discovered in 1909 on Mt. Stephen, in the Canadian Rockies of British Colombia, Canada, this locality provided an early representation of the [&hellip... Read More



Episode 47: Lobopodians

Published on June 29th, 2015 | by Dave Marshall

It’s been quite a week for lobopodians! First off, we’ve had the redescription of Hallucigenia by Dr Martin Smith. This enigmatic fossil from the Burgess Shale typifies the difficulty palaeontologists have had in interpreting some of [&hellip... Read More



Episode 40: Brachiopods

Published on February 1st, 2015 | by Dave Marshall

Brachiopods are some of the most common fossils to be found in rocks worldwide. Their thick, hard and (often) calcareous shells make them preferentially preserved in the fossil record. We probably all have found one, but [&hellip... Read More


01 - Buck Quarry near Emu Bay

Episode 36: Emu Bay Shale

Published on November 1st, 2014 | by Dave Marshall

The Emu Bay shale is a Burgess Shale-type lagerstätte from the Early Cambrian of South Australia. We speak to Dr John Paterson, of the University of New England, all about the locality and the fossils it [&hellip... Read More


A briggsi holotype

Episode 31: Anomalocaridids

Published on July 15th, 2014 | by Laura Soul

Anomalocaridids are iconic Cambrian animals, originally found in the Burgess Shale deposits in Canada. From the Genus Anomalocaris, their name translates as ‘strange shrimp’ owing to their initial misidentification from incomplete remains. In fact, it took until [&hellip... Read More



Episode 29: Medusae

Published on June 1st, 2014 | by Dave Marshall

One of the longest-ranging and outwardly primitive-looking groups of animals on the planet are the Medusozoa. In consisting of around 95% water, it may be surprising to know that there is a fossil record of jellyfish, [&hellip... Read More



Episode 28: From worms to stars

Published on May 1st, 2014 | by Joe Keating

Echinoderms are characterised by a mineralised skeleton, specialised water vascular system and five-fold symmetry. It is this unusual body plane symmetry that gives the starfish its star-shape. None of these features, however, are possessed by the closest [&hellip... Read More



Episode 18: Trilobites

Published on July 1st, 2013 | by Dave Marshall

Trilobites are one of the most instantly recognisable groups of fossils. They were present from the very start of the Paleozoic and went on the fill a great number of ecological roles before going extinct at the Permo-Triassic [&hellip... Read More


Alitta virens

Episode 12: Paleozoic Problematica

Published on February 15th, 2013 | by Dave Marshall

Fossils, at the best of times, are difficult to interpret. Palaeontologists attempt to reconstruct organisms from what little remains are left. This can be relatively simple for groups that we are familiar with today; you can [&hellip... Read More

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