Maggie is an evolutionary palaeobiologist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her research involves looking at the evolutionary relationships of early fossil echinoderms, as well as using geochemistry to look at modern echinoderms. Most of the time, Maggie can be found looking at fossils in museums to try to understand the different shapes of early echinoderms. In addition to research, Maggie is passionate about introducing kids of all ages to palaeontology — whether by creating fossil kits for teachers, laser-scanning microfossils in 3D or volunteering at the local museum. In her spare time, Maggie is an avid reader, and enjoys kayaking and spending time with her cat.
Maggie R. Limbeck, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 602 Strong Hall, 1621 Cumberland Ave, Knoxville, TN 37916, USA.
by Maggie R. Limbeck*1
The oceans of the Palaeozoic era (541 million to 252 million years ago) were full of animals that we are familiar with, such as fish, snails, and coral, but also included many organisms that look almost nothing like their living relatives. The further back in time we go, for instance to the Cambrian and Ordovician periods (541 million to 444 million years ago), the greater the difference in body plans, or morphologies, compared to modern species. Echinoderms are an excellent example of this — living members of the group, such as starfish and sea urchins, are easily recognizable, but many of their extinct, fossilized relatives from hundreds of millions of years ago look very different. Understanding these different body forms is important to palaeontol