Javier Ortega-Hernandez

Research fellow in palaeobiology, University of Cambridge

Javier received his first degree in Biology from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and then moved to the UK to complete the MSc in Palaeobiology at the University of Bristol. In 2009 he came to Cambridge (Darwin College) to pursue a PhD in Earth Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Nicholas Butterfield, and in October 2013 became a Research Fellow at Emmanuel College and the Department of Earth Sciences. Javier is currently affiliated with the Department of Zoology as a Herchel Smith Fellow in Biological Sciencies.

Javier’s research focuses on the palaeobiology and evolution of some of the earliest known animals, particularly those that inhabited the Earth during the event known as the “Cambrian Explosion” approximately 530 million years ago. His main expertise encompasses the classification, morphology and phylogeny of arthropods and their close relatives, as their staggering abundance and ecological success make them excellent study subjects for understanding the rise of complex animal life.

Ongoing research projects include the study of recently discovered Konservat-Lagerstätten (sites of exceptional preservation) from the lower Palaeozoic of North America and China, the use of morphological landmarks for understanding development in fossil organisms, and the complex evolutionary integration of phylogeny, morphology and ecology in extinct arthropods.


  • –present
    Research fellow in palaeobiology, University of Cambridge