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Cambropachycope - the owner of one of the oldest compound eyes (400:1 scale)

State Darwin Museum

State Darwin Museum
Moscow, Russia

This tiny crustacean, measuring just 1.5mm long, was found among the unique Cambrian "Orsten" lagerstätte deposits, near Västergötland in Sweden.

These deposits were formed by the almost-instant phosphatization of tiny arthropods - small marine invertebrates that became trapped among mineral sediment.

Due to the astonishing speed of the fossilization process, the very smallest details of the animals captured within the deposit were preserved.

This level of anatomical detail made it possible for scientists to study the internal structure of the cambropachycope’s eye, and even the retina. The fossilized eyes of these cambropachycopes are among the oldest preserved eyes on earth.

The cambropachycope looked rather unusual. Its head drew into a point at the back, like a cyclist's helmet, and had a single large, compound eye made up of many lenses.

Its body was laterally flattened - as though it had been squashed between two walls - and it had ten limbs, six of which were covered with sensitive hairs. The rear two limbs were flattened and resembled fins, and the cambropachycope probably used them to swim.

3D model by E. Machnev, texturing by A. Akhtamzyan.


  • Title: Cambropachycope - the owner of one of the oldest compound eyes (400:1 scale)
  • Physical Dimensions: 1.5 mm
  • Medium: 3D reconstruction

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