Think Tank

Brachiopod or 'Lamp Shell'

Brachiopods or 'Lamp Shells' are two-shelled animals that live in the sea.

Eospirifer brachiopod fossil from Wolverhampton Arts and Museums

Brachiopod or 'Lamp Shell'

Brachiopods are unfamiliar animals today as they often live in deep waters.

Brachiopods were very common during the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic Eras, but are now much less common.

Brachiopods fed on minute particles of food filtered out of passing sea water.

More about Brachiopods

Brachiopods are two-shelled or ‘bivalved’ animals that live in the sea. Brachiopods are a totally different group of animals to the bivalved molluscs, such as clams and mussels, commonly found on beaches today.

Most Brachiopods live attached to the sea floor by a stalk or ‘pedicle’, although others just lie on the sea bed. The shell in Brachiopods can always be cut into two equal halves down the middle, at ninety degrees to the line along which the two shells open.

The join between the two shells is known as the ‘commissure’. The commissure in this Brachiopod is U-shaped to separate food rich water coming into the shell from waste water being expelled from the shell.

Brachiopods filter feed using a complex internal organ called a ‘lophophore’. The lophophore is supported by a spiral skeleton called a ‘brachidium’, which in this Brachiopod was wide so it could fit inside the shell.

This brachiopod is from the collection of Dr John Frazer and is now in the collection of Wolverhampton Museum. Dr Frazer was a local amateur geologist who lived from 1820 to 1909.

The scientific name, or two-part Latin binomial, for this Brachiopod is Eospirifer radiatus. It belongs to the Order of brachiopods know as the Spiriferida which have a long hinge at the back and a wide brachidium.

This Eospirifer brachiopod is 425 million years old and comes from the Silurian Period. It was collected from the Much Wenlock Limestone fossil reef ecosystem, near Dudley in the English West Midlands.

Want to know more?

To download this information or to find out more, click on the Resources to your right.

This Brachiopod is part of the collections held at the Wolverhampton Arts and Museums Service in Wolverhampton. Use the ‘Wolverhampton arts+museums’ web link below to find out more about the Collections in Wolverhampton.

Halysites fossil coral from Dudley Museum

Corals are common fossils that indicate where they were found was once a warm, shallow sea. Find out more about Fossil Corals by clicking on the image above.

Brain coral from Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

Today, Brain Corals live in warm, shallow tropical waters. To find out more about Brain Corals, click on the image above.