Glossary
Arthropoda / Arthropods
Arthropods include trilobites, crustaceans, arachnids and insects and are the most diverse of all phyla, 530 million years ago and today.
Benthic
'Bottom-dwelling', on or near the sea bed.
Biota
The flora (plants) and fauna (animals) of a given region.
Biozone
A time period defined by the occurence of a particular fossil.
Brachiopoda / Brachiopods
The 'lamp shells', two-shelled animals superfically similar to the bivalve molluscs.
Burgess Shale, the
A mid-Cambrian age deposit showing similar preservation. Despite the 10-15 million-year age gap and separation by an ancient ocean, Burgess shares a similar fauna with Chengjiang.
Cambrian
The earliest period of multi-cellular life.
Chordata / Chordates
An animal with a nerve cord, the ancestors of the vertebrates ('back-boned') and ultimately, ourselves.
Cnidaria
The group which includes corals, sea anemones and jellyfish.
Coprolite
Fossil faeces.
Deposit feeders
Animals which feed from the sediment.
Dorsal
Back / top.
Epifaunal
Animals living on the sea bed, but not within it.
Eustatic
A global change in sea level.
Flute casts
A feature of turbulent erosion.
Graded bedding
Bedding which shows a vertical or lateral change in grain size due to sorting in a turbulent flow.
Hematite
Fe2O3, an ore mineral of Iron.
Hemichordata
Worm-like animals which share some features with the chordates.
Infaunal
Living 'in' the sea bed, i.e. partially or completely within the sediment.
in situ
In place.
Lagerstätten
A site of exceptional fossil preservation. Characterised by high abundance (many fossils) and/or the preservation of soft-parts (that usually don't preserve due to decay).
Lobopodia / Lobopods
'Limbed animals', can be thought of as worms with legs.
Ma
Age in million of years, e.g. 530 Ma = 530,000,000 years.
Palaeo-
Ancient.
Palaeoecology
The study of the ecology of ancient organisms (fossils).
Palaeontology
The study of fossils.
Pelagic
Non-bottom dwelling forms, living higher in the water column.
Phyla / Phylum
The highest grouping in the animal or plant kingdom.
Poriferia
The sponges.
Priapulida
Carnivorous worms that tend to be short and fat.
Sessile
Organisms which cannot move and are anchored to the sea bed.
Suspension feeders
Animals which feed on particles in the water.
Taphonomy
The study of the process of decay and fossilisation, or what happens between an organism's death and it's recovery as a fossil.
Tool marks
A mark made in sediment by a mobile object.
Ventral
Bottom / underside.