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'Orsten' fossils – mainly arthropods – have, not least due to their three-dimensional preservation of body, appendages and most of their surface details, have opened a unique window into early life at the bottom of the Cambrian sea; a further advantage is the preservation of representatives of different evolutionary levels and even of developmental stages. This permitted an exciting view into the life history of such old animals. It also allows the study of the development of structures and structural systems (e.g. the feeding system) in an evolutionary context. It also permitted direct comparisons between these exquisitely preserved fossil animals and their living counterparts/relatives and to discuss life habits and ecological aspects of these Cambrian forms.

Left: Preservation of complete animals and details. Right: Animals from sites around the world. For more pictures see our gallery (homepage left colum)

Relevance of 'Orsten' animals. Since these animals are witnesses of a life 520 to 490 million years ago and a direct evidence of truly existed morphologies, their study has aided in boosting our understanding of the early evolution and phylogeny of especially the Arthropoda and to understand more about functional aspects and evolutionary changes toward the modern taxa. 'Orsten' animals are the true database to test models and hypotheses, no matter if based on morphologies or so-called molecular data.

Enjoy our starting page by clicking here.

------------------------The current website will be closed by the end of this year --------------------------

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December 31: This website will be closed!

November: Paper out on a new Orsten crustacean, Paulinecaris siveterae

July: Paper on Orsten crustacean larvae published, see Publications

January: Gerd Mayer, our Ulm team member defended his dissertation and is also a Dr. rer. nat. now

For news of 2013 and before see our archive

March 12, 2010: Klaus Müller, discoverer of the Orsten, died

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Last revision: 2014-12-18