An example of the new fascinating alliance between Biology and Palaeontology to improve our understanding of Metazoan evolution are the 'Orsten' fossils. The discoveries of 'Orsten' fossil sites, now known from all around the World, have provided us with a unique window into life at the bottom of the Sea as early as in the Cambrian – and even in a three-dimensional view. 

Enjoy our 'Orsten' web page, and feel free to send us an email; we are grateful for any kind of suggestions, additions, critics, etc.

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Occurrences around the world (left). More pictures, e.g., in our gallery of Orsten animals. 'Orsten' brochure (PDF, right). Click image to download the brochure.

 Objectives and Aims of CORE research

In 2005 an international C.O.R.E. Group was founded by us as an informal international research alliance with a common interest in the exceptionally 3D preserved 'Orsten' fossils from the Cambrian. Until 2015 it increased to around 40 members from no less than 8 countries from 4 continents plus Japan. It was meant as a Center of 'Orsten' Research and Exploration = C.O.R.E., mainly kept together by the workgroup around Dieter Waloszek at the University of Ulm. C.O.R.E. also stood for an alliance of Biology and Palaeontology in order to improve our understanding of animal evolution (Metazoa). Study objects of C.O.R.E. were and still are in the main the 'Orsten' fossils themselves, but also broader aspects such as  the geology around the 'Orsten' and more (from pale-environment and habitual aspects to all aspects of morphology and functional morphology, to interrelationships and phylogeny to evolution in general).

Main issue of the international research alliance was the concentration of expertise about the 'Orsten' and its fossils, the sites in which these occur, and related topics, last but not least the dissemination of information on the 'Orsten'. To serve these purposes we had created the initial version of this 'Orsten' website, with simple tools, so not as perfect as others, but we try to add more information continuously, correct and update the content as regular as possible.

The 'Orsten' website aims at including not only information about the 'Orsten' in geological terms, and its fossils – mainly animals – but also to provide some background data on animals, Metazoa per se and on history of 'Orsten' research (from the founder to the activities today), images, illustrations, graphics and – last but not least – relevant literature. On our initial website interested persons could easily download PDFs of all, or at least most of our papers, and also several papers from the CORE members (otherwise pick their email address from the contacts page and ask directly. We also listed all papers published by the discoverer of the 'Orsten' and founder of 'Orsten' research, Klaus J. Müller, Bonn (an extra chapter on him presented too), most also available as PDFs now. Due to limited space of the old website, we could not uphold the number of pdfs and had to offer to send pdf only on demand/request. The new website version was aimed at overcoming this, but the CMS system causes many problems to us and we are working on solutions....

Major information was about the Swedish 'Orsten' lagerstätten, discovered by Klaus Müller, explaining the bias on information given here. Yet we still hope that we can progressively add more from other sites, particularly from China, yielding the hitherto oldest fossils of this type of preservation, and different research groups in the field, such as from China, Poland and Sweden. Indeed the sites from the various countries around the World have contributed not only significantly to our knowledge about and around the 'Orsten' by adding and and different species, but they also added to our knowledge about lithological, perservational and taphonomical issues. And they expanded the time frame of 'Orsten' occurrences considerably. In fact the 'Orsten' is the longest ranging type of conserve lagerstaette, outranging Chengjiang from China – on early Cambrian – and Burgess Shale – only early to Middle Cambrian – by far: 'Orsten' is known from the early Cambrian to the latest Cambrian (Furongian), possibly extending even into the lower Ordovician!

Lastly, and of course, the fossils from the new localities helped to improve and widen our evolutionary interpretations significantly (examples: papers from 2007, published in Nature in 2007, from 2010, published in Current Biology, or the more recent papers by Maeda et al. 2011, Terfelt and Erikson in 2012 or by our Chinese colleagues from 2012 and 2013, and most recently in a paper on a new so-called type-A larva from China in Zhang H et al. 2016). This aspect will be dealt with in an extra section.

Current Scientific Activities of the different Research Teams