What follows is a brief introduction to the invertebrates included on this website. The short summaries are intended primarily to provide non-specialists with a quick overview of the major invertebrate groups represented in our fossil collections. The summaries are not intended to be comprehensive or encyclopedic, but should provide basic background information if you are unfamiliar with these groups of animals.
The term invertebrate is generally applied to all animals that lack a vertebral column or “backbone” derived during development from a structure known as a notochord. Defined this way, invertebrates include just about all animals, except for the subphylum Vertebrata (which includes things like fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals) within the phylum Chordata. A slightly narrower definition, used by some in organizing invertebrate collections, excludes forms without a backbone but with evidence of a notochord. Although they may not possess a “backbone”, many invertebrates have hard, mineralized shells or “skeletons” and have left behind a rich fossil record. Most of our 2D images and 3D models of fossil invertebrates are still being processed for inclusion on this website, and only a few exemplars are included at present, so check back frequently for new additions!
Click on photos for more information and 3D models.