Fossils index

Brachiopods

Brachiopods are shellfish. There are a few brachiopod still surviving, but they used to be common. The name is derived from bracchium + poda (Latin) meaning 'arm foot'. A brachiopod attaches itself to a rock using a foot or pedicle. It has arms to catch its food.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Brachiopoda
Brachiopods are a philum, which is a major division of the animal kingdom.

The brachiopod is the state fossil of Kentucky, USA.

Brachiopod
Brachiopod Most types of brachiopods are extinct, but there are brachiopods still alive today. On the left is an example. It is called a lingula. Brachiopods look very similar to bivalves, but brachipods tend to have a symmetrical shell, while bivalve shells are often lopsided. Both brachiopods and bivalve have pairs of shells. Bivalve shells are more likely to be the same, while brachiopods often have different top and bottom shells.

Timescale: Brachiopods have been around for a long time, about 540 million years ago.



Some brachiopods have shells that look almost like wings (see below, top and bottom of the fossil). In China these are known as Shih-yen or Stone Swallows. The 5th century Chinese scholar Li Tao-Yuan recorded that during thunderstorms the stone swallows flew about as if they were real swallows. In the European Alps, they are called Little Doves. In Delabole, Cornwall, they were called Delabole Butterflies. Trilobite tails have also been called stone butterflies. Size of fossil: 30mm

Brachiopod
Brachiopod


Brachiopods are sometimes called lampshells, as they look like oil lamps. In this fossil, you can see that one shell tucks into the other. An oil lamp has a wick at one end, and its shape looks a bit like this. Since brachiopods can be such odd shapes, I've taken photos from different angles to give some idea of the whole.

This brachiopod is from the Jurassic Period, about 165 million years old. It is from Ardennea, in Belgium. It is an Isjuminella.
Size: 18mm

Brachiopod

Brachiopod Brachiopod



Here is another brachiopod from top and bottom. This is from the Cretaceous Period, about 120 million years old. It is from Hunstanton, Norfolk. It is a Terebratulid. Size: 28mm

Brachiopod Brachiopod



Here is another brachiopod from various sidea. This is from the Cretaceous Period, about 130 million years old. It is from the Isle of Wight, Lower Greensand. It is a Sellithyris. Size: 32mm

Brachiopod Brachiopod Brachiopod



Another brachiopod from top and bottom. Size: 29mm

Brachiopod Brachiopod



This is an Ornithella. It is from the Jurassic Period, about 170 million years old. It is from near Bath, Somerset. Size: 26mm

Brachiopod
This is a Tetrarhynchia. It is from the Jurassic period, about 185 million years old. It is from near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Size: 24mm

Brachiopod


This brachiopod comes from Wenlock Edge, West Midlands. It is from the Silurian period, 420 million years old. Size: 20mm

Brachiopod Brachiopod


These brachiopods are called Rhynchonelloidella. They come from Aston Keynes, Wilts. They are from the Jurassic period, 165 million years old.
Size: 15mm
Brachiopod Brachiopod
Size: 10mm
Brachiopod Brachiopod


This tiny brachiopod was found on Hastings beach. Size of fossil: 6mm

Brachiopod


These two brachiopods were found in my garden in Cambridge, showing that you can find fossils practically anywhere! They are Rhynchonella, from the Cretaceous, 100 million years ago. The first is an impression rather than the actual shell itself.

Size of fossil imprint: 12mm
Brachiopod

Size of fossil: 8mm
Brachiopod