Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Photo of the Day #14: Walliserops trifurcates

Walliserops trifurcates Morzadec, 2001
Acastidae; Phacopida; Trilobita; Arthropoda
Oxford Museum of Natural History
July 2008

Trilobites were amazing things, and if you believe the storyline in Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008), then they still are amazing things. But for the rest of us, trilobites became extinct way before the first dinosaurs even appeared. The W. trifurcates depicted is just one of c.17,000 known species, itself dating from the Devonian Period (about 420-360 million years ago), and was found in Morocco, where many unusual forms seem to have existed in shallow seas. Even Richard Fortey himself, a veteran trilobite expert based at the Natural History Museum, London, was surprised and amazed at such a bizarre looking animal. Just look at that projection! What the hell could that have been for?

Trilobites possessed very advanced eyes for arthropods (jointed-legged invertebrates), which you can see on Walliserops; the level of detail preserved in such fossils is just incredible.

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