Earth Collections: Cambrian database

The Cambrian Period extended from 545-495 million years ago. The Cambrian database, though mostly comprising specimens from this time period, also contains material of Precambrian age.

The Precambrian and Cambrian material in the Museum totals some 1,250 specimens, mostly from the United Kingdom. The Cambrian holdings include many specimens collected in the 19th century. Much of this is trilobite material.

Recent additions to the Cambrian collections have included early bivalved crustaceans from North America, China and the United Kingdom, microfossils from the Baltic and Canada, and trace fossils from Norway. Some of the bivalved crustacean specimens are particularly significant because they are extremely rare examples that show ancient animals with their soft-part morphology preserved - delicate limbs for example. Such specimens are of fundamental importance for assessing relationships, for evolutionary studies, and for providing data for analysis of functional morphology and mode of life.

Precambrian material in the collections includes sponges from Mongolia.

Specimens of Cambrian age are prefixed by the letter A, while those of Precambrian age are prefixed by the letter A with an acute accent (). Specimens of uncertain age, from around the level of the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary, have been treated for cataloguing purposes as belonging to the Cambrian.

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