The Softer Side of Burgess Shale

 505 million years ago strange and wonderful creatures filled the seas. Thanks to the evolution of pelagic larvae nearly every wet spot on earth was populated (mostly) by soft bodied invertebrates. The vast majority were filter feeding lay abouts, but some were real up and comers with large, hard bodies and an appetite for their sedentary contemporaries. The undisputed queen of the sea was Anomalocaris, who likely fed on just about everyone.

Anomalocaris means "strange shrimp"

  How do I know all of this? Because of a series of unique occurrences that allowed for preservation of the soft parts of prehistoric fauna. How fitting it then seems that the spot light should now fall upon Melissa aka Paleogirl, who expresses her love of these extinct creatures through plush crafts.

Plush Eurypterid with actual Eurypterid fossil

  Melissa’s affinity for extinct creepy crawlers is frequently met with misunderstanding and confusion, even from her own mother, who has been know to ask how her “aliens” are selling. But like any obsessive nerd she gladly shrugs off the disinterest of others and focuses on her own passion for accurate recreations of under-represented biota. And make no mistake, the degree of accuracy to which these plush animals are designed is nothing short of astounding.

Exhibit 1A and 2A

Yes, that's a page from “Invertebrate Palaeontology and Evolution” 4th edition by E.N.K Clarkson, jealous?
I dare you to look into those blue compound eyes and not fall deeply in love.


 The very best thing about these stuffed critters is that they seem to have universal appeal, even to people who don’t know what they’re looking at. It takes a special talent to make a terrifying sea monster appealing to a pony obsessed seven year old, but Melissa has done exactly that.  Which is why I am compelled to dedicate an entire entry to these strange creations and their brainy, crafty mama. Bravo, Melissa. Bravo.

If you’ve become as enchanted with these plush animals as I have I encourage you to visit Melissa’s Etsy page where you’ll find her latest creations, as well as info about custom orders.


Cloë is a carbon based food tube who enjoys a peaceful existence on Earth in the 21st century. In order to put food through her tube she works hard drawing things that will make other food tubes happy enough to give her green paper. Green paper isn't very good to eat, but you can usually trade it for better tube food. You can follow her on her Blog or on Twitter

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