Tag: Aodhan Butler

Aodhán Butler is a doctoral student at Uppsala University, Sweden. He is in the final stages of a PhD on early Cambrian stem-group lophotrochozoans – a group of animals including phoronids, brachiopods and small shelly fossils, the tommotiids. His research interests centre around determining the origin of major groups of animals in the Cambrian explosion, how soft-bodied organisms become fossilized in sites of exceptional preservation, and integrating molecular biology with fossils to provide a holistic view of evolution.

When not bashing rocks in the name of palaeontology, he can be found climbing them in the wilds of Scotland, Scandinavia and elsewhere or alternatively, disappearing for hours on one of an ever expanding collection of bicycles. He’s also a keen nature photographer and amateur astronomer. On rainier days he can usually be found trying to repair one of said bicycles or whitewater kayaking.

Contact Details:

Aodhán Butler, Uppsala University, Department of Earth Sciences, Palaeobiology, Villavägen 16, SE-752 36, Uppsala, Sweden.

Fossil Focus: The place of small shelly fossils in the Cambrian explosion, and the origin of Animals

Fossil Focus
by Aodhan Butler *1 Introduction: Darwin, the Cambrian explosion and the origin of animals. The small shelly fossils (or SSFs) of the early Cambrian period (approximately 541 million to 509 million years ago) could in many ways be described as the world’s worst jigsaw puzzle. This article will attempt to give a brief tour of the significance, history and biology of this humble yet potentially hugely important group of fossil organisms and how they may help in answering fundamental questions about how and when the major groups of animals evolved on Earth. A palaeontological mystery… “To the question why we do not find rich fossiliferous deposits belonging to these assumed earliest periods prior to the Cambrian system, I can give no satisfactory answer.” Charles Darwin, On the Origin of