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Dr. Javier Ortega-Hernández Biol. (UNAM), MSc (Brist), PhD (Cantab)

Dr.  Javier Ortega-Hernández, Biol. (UNAM), MSc (Brist), PhD (Cantab)

Herchel Smith Fellow in Biological Sciences / Research Associate

Javier Ortega-Hernández is accepting applications for PhD students.

Room 2.05 David Attenborough Building
Office Phone: 01223 (7)69012


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. More recently, Javier became a Herchel Smith Fellow in Biological Sciences at the Department of Zoology at Cambridge in January 2016.

Research Interests

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” more than 500 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.

Key Publications

Downloads and full publication list available at Google Scholar, ResearchGate, and

- Ortega-Hernández, J., Janssen, R., and Budd, G.E. Origin and evolution of the panarthropod head - A palaeobiological and developmental perspective. Arthropod Structure and Development early view online (doi: 10.1016/j.asd.2016.10.011).

- Yang, J., Ortega-Hernández, J., Butterfield, N. J., Liu, Y., Boyan, G. S., Hou, J.-b., Tian, L., and Zhang, X.-g. 2016. Fuxianhuiid ventral nerve cord and early nervous system evolution in Panarthropoda. PNAS 113 (11): 2988–2993 (doi: 10.1073/pnas.1522434113). University of Cambridge news feed.

- Ortega-Hernández, J. 2016. Making sense of 'lower' and 'upper' stem-group Euarthropoda, with comments on the strict use of the name Arthropoda von Siebold, 1848. Biological Reviews 91 (1): 255-273 (doi: 10.11111/brv.12168).

- Ortega-Hernández, J. 2015. Lobopodians. Current Biology 25 (19): R873-R875 (doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.07.028).

- Yang, J., Ortega-Hernández, J., Gerber, S. Butterfield, N. J., Hou, J.-b., Tian, L., and Zhang, X.-g. 2015. A superarmored lobopodian from the Cambrian of China and early disparity in the evolution of Onychophora. PNAS 112 (28): 8678-8683 (doi: 10.1073/pnas.1505596112). University of Cambridge news feed.

- Ortega-Hernández, J. 2015. Homology of head sclerites in Burgess Shale euarthropods. Current Biology 25 (12): 1625-1631. (doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.04.034). University of Cambridge news feed.

- Smith, M.R., and Ortega-Hernández, J. 2014. Hallucigenia's onychophoran-like claws and the case for Tactopoda. Nature 514 (7522): 363-366. (doi: 10.1038/nature13576). University of Cambridge news feed.

- Ortega-Hernández, J., Esteve, J., and Butterfield. 2013. Humble origins for a successful strategy: complete enrolment in early Cambrian olenellid trilobites. Biology Letters 9, 20130679. (doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0679). University of Cambridge news feed.

- Yang, J., Ortega-Hernández, J., Butterfield, N. J., and Zhang, X.-g. 2013. Specialized appendages in fuxianhuiids and the head organization of early euarthropods. Nature 494 (7438): 468-471. (doi: 101.1038/nature11874).