AMONG MY TRILOBITES
The Mississipian and Pennsylvian periods which lasted from
365 to 315 and 315 to 290 million years ago are referred to
as the Carboniferous, not a Welsh locale . Life on
land was getting interesting, but the trilobites were fading
out. It seems that trilobites did better in eras named
after places in Wales.
SEE SAM GON'S WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS ORDER
OF TRILOBITES BY CLICKING ON THE NAME. RETURN HERE
WITH THE BACK BUTTON ON YOUR BROWSER.
1.2cm diameter Wolf Mountain Shale; Wise
1.4 cm Staunton Formation; Coal Run, Indiana
Trilobites were disappearing, but there were a lot of
4cm calyx Harrodsburg Limestone, Montgomery County,
3.5cm calyx (same as above specimen)
The Permian period closed out the Paleozoic and spelled THE
END for trilobites. It lasted from 290 to 245 million
years ago. By the way, it was named for Perm, a city in
Russia, not Wales, which obviously was the problem for our
8 mm diameter Pueblo Formation; Camp Colorado
Shale, Brown Co, Texas
Trilobites are famous for their
eyes. They were the first organisms to show complex
visual structures. Many trilobites had
schizoachroidal eyes, consisting of arrays of calcite
lenses. Pictured above is a mud's eye view of an
oncoming Coltraenia oufatenensis, often called "Treveropyge".
They had nearly 360 degrees of vision. Here are a
few more; can you recognize which trilobite each came
This is a holochroal eye. It has a corneal covering
over the array of lenses.
It is from a Paralejurus. Some
of my other scutellids have similar eyes, but these from the
Paralejurus are much larger and easier to photograph.
Almost all trilobites after the
Cambrian had the ability to roll up in a ball like a
sleeping Chihuahua, probably as a means of defense.
Their cephalons and pygidiums fit tightly together. an
ability facilitated by Isopygy, which means their lengths
are the same.
TRACE OF TRILOBITE
Trilobites had to rest
sometime. This is a Rhusophycus pudicum,
a resting place or "nest" associated with Flexicalymene
trilobites. This one was found in Kentucky and is
covered with a variety of other trilobite parts,
brachiopods and crinoid fragments.
This is an extremely small Elrathia kingi.
I found several of these tiny fossils while
cleaning up the mud on some specimens I found at the U-Dig
Trilobite Quarry near Delta , Utah. It is mounted on
the head of a pin, which can be seen extending beyond the
edges of the fossil itself.
I have seen trilobite earrings, but my ears
aren't pierced. My wife understands my trilobite
infatuation, but she won't wear bugs on her ears. For those
times when I absolutely have to wear a trilobite, I have found
some pins. If you want to track some down for yourself,
check out the links below.
Previously, most of the close-up photographs
in this site were taken with either a Minolta X-700 or SRT-101,
using a Vivitar 55mm Macro lens, generally using natural sunlight
for illumination. The photographs were scanned and
adjusted using PhotoShop to improve display, but absolutely no
spines were added. Although
many of my previous photographs looked great in their original
prints, there was an obvious loss of quality in the scanning
process. Furthermore, if the picture didn't come out exactly
as I intended, I had to wait for another roll of film to see if I
could get it right the next time around. I am now using an
Olympus C-765 digital camera with an amazing macro
capability. I can get immediate feedback and can keep
shooting until I am reasonably satisfied with the result.
While the camera is capable of 4 megapixels, I am using it at 2 mp
and the results still provide a lot more detail than the scanned
images that they are replacing.
Fossil preparation can be fun, if a bit
nerve-wracking. While I can't claim to have prepared most
of my specimens, I have done a great deal of preparation on a
number of them. Several, including the Ceratarges type
A and Cyphaspis still had a lot of matrix when I
bought them. I liberated them using dental tools, a #11
scalpel and a Dremel Mototool with a series of diamond
bits. While I have really enjoyed watching them emerge
from their stony tombs after hundreds of millions of years, I
must admit that this can be an anxiety provoking experience,
especially when working with small spines, hard matrix and an
expensive fossil. I certainly felt it prudent to buy a Comura
rather than trying to prep one myself. Even when I don't
do much to the fossil, its display is often enhanced by some
extra work to clean up the matrix. Many Moroccan
trilobites are prepared with rather distinctive grooves in the
matrix. I find them rather distracting and prefer the
smoother and higher contrast appearance resulting from taking
them down with a grinder and Dremel.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
I hope that you have learned something new about something
old. There are a lot of books on fossils. The Eyewitness
Handbook, FOSSILS has around twenty different kinds depicted
with some basic information on their classification. Volume O
of the updated TREATISE ON INVETEBRATE PALEONTOLOGY has been
released by the Geological Society of America. This is the
primary reference on Trilobites. It covers the anatomy and
classification of Trilobites, but only goes into depth about two
orders, Agnostida and Redlichia. Additional volumes are coming
in the next few years. There are over 200 pictures of
trilobites in Dr. Riccardo Levi-Setti's book TRILOBITES,
along with interesting chapters on their anatomy, their amazing
eyes, their ability to roll up, and their classification. This
book was never intended to be an encyclopediac compilation of
trilobitia, but it is often frustrating to try to find
information on a particular species without a real index. The
approach in the atlas is often very anecdotal, leading me to feel
its true title should be "Trilobites I Have Known." I always
put it down wanting to know more... for a science book, that's
a good thing! Fossils of the Burgess Shale, by Briggs, Erwin
and Collier, has a section on the trilobites found at this important
site along with pictures of many of the other fascinating creatures
found there. Richard Fortey, who has described many
trilobite species, and has written extensively on natural history,
has a new book: TRILOBITE! Eyewitness to Evolution.
He describes his leifelong fascination with trilobites and discusses
their anatomy, evolution and the history of their role in our
exploration of the past. He humanizes some of the famous
personalities in paleontology, and tells us how we know what we
think we know about geology and evolution.
I am sure you would agree that non-functional
links are very exasperating. Since I first started this site
I have already run into websites that have moved, busting
their links. So far I have managed to track them down and
repair them, but I don't check every link all that
frequently. I try not to keep too many for just that reason,
but I do think the ones I have are worthwhile. If you hit a dead
one, please let me know and I'll either fix it or remove it.
- Hawaii may not have any native Trilobites, but it does have
Goniagnostus, or Sam Gon III, Trilobite organizer
extraordinaire! He has done a terrific job of outlining
the orders of Trilobites according to both versions of the
Treatise. His on-line guide is available at A GUIDE TO THE ORDERS OF
- The Guide To The Orders of Trilobites is also now
available in a print version from Dr. Gon's site.
- There is a good essay on trilobites at the
UC Berkeley Museum of Paleontology .
- The Invertebrate
Collection in the Peabody Museum at Yale has a nice set of
images although you need to use the search function to find
them. It isn't as easy as it used to be..
- Humboldt State University in Arcata, California has a very
History Museum with an excellent display of trilobites as
well as other fossils. While the museum can longer be
visited in person, due to the sad state of the education budget
in California, their exhibits can still be seen on-line.
Western Trilobite Association has a lot of information on
trilobites from the American west.
- An unexpected place to find an incredible trilobite
museum is in Cancun, Mexico. There is a fabulous high end
resort, the Azul Sensatori, owned by a trilobite fanatic that
has trilobite mosaics in its pools and the Back to the Past Museum
somewhere near the lobby. The restaurants at this place
also look enticing. I was in Cancun a couiple of years
ago, but this place hadn't opened yet, so I had to content
myself with heading into the interior of the Yucatan and looking
at Mayan ruins for a week (sniff...).
- Ohio has a lot of information on fossils, including trilobites
and featuring Isotelus maximus which is their state
fossil. The Ohio Geological Survey sold a very nice book,
Bulletin 70, Fossils of Ohio, which may still be
available through their publications
- I got a lot of the information for my maps from the PaleoMap Project and
the "Global Earth History" pages at the Northern Arizona
University website (which no longr seem to exist.
- INTERNATIONAL TRILOBITE TOUR
- If you want to know was sind Trilobiten, check out
Magrean's Eifel-Ardennes Trilobites from
Trilobitten is another German website, meaning We
Trilobites instead of just Trilobites.
- The International Trilobite Tour continues to Japan with
Kato's Fossil Collection
This can be a bit tricky to navigate, but just try
clicking on the menus. Fujita's
Trilobite Page has a large gallery if you can figure
out the navigation. A list of his images can be
here , but by clicking on whatever looks like a link you
can have a lot of fun. You may find a mouse shaped like a
trilobite, trilobite bottle-stoppers and who knows what
else. He has a link to an amazing sculpture of a
Tretaspsis grande, one of the weirdest trilobites of all time,
and that is saying a lot!
- Pete Cameron has a gallery of great specimens from
around the world on his Flick'r
- The Carnegie Institute features many beautiful specimens in
- Most of these websites have a lot of educational content in
addition to selling Trilobites. Some of these websites
have been promising updates for a long time, but as long as they
have some nice pictures on their websites, I'll leave the links.
- Extinctions is
a fabulous fossil and natural history on-line store. They
have spectacular pictures of hundreds of different trilobites as
well as other interesting fossils. Their Trilobite
of the Week. is always a great example of the best in
fossil preparation. Owner Steve Hess is currently working
with Dr. Sam Gon III, leader of the Yahoo Trilobite Club, on an
expanded website to serve as a repository for trilobite
- Commercial sites that may have good images are: Paleosearch.,PaleoDirect,
- The Fossil Mall is a
consortium of dealers selling North American, Moroccan and
Russian trilobites as well as many other kinds of fossils.
- Primitive Worlds
has a very nice website with pictures of their trilobite
quarrying operations as well as some very nice specimens for
- Indiana9 has a new name with many rare specimens for sale at:
- A site from the Netherlands, Hensken's Fossils
has a large variety of specimens that I have not seen elsewhere.
- The best Russian trilobites can be found at the Petersburg
Paleontological Institute , if the site is working.
Last time I checked,it was being rebuilt.
- Another site with great Russian fossils is Paleocity . It includes
a fascinating series of images showing the preparation process
for an Acidapsis, one of the most delicate and spiniest
trilobites found anywhere.
- The Trilobiteshop
has some beautiful pictures of high quality prep work as well as
some items for sale.
- Trifoss is a
German site with a large on-line store.
is based in Barcelona, which some people think is in Spain, but
the folks there will tell you it is actually in Catalonia.
Joan Corbacho's site features a lot of nice Moroccan specimens
from just across the Mediterranean.
- The Millenium has arrived now that you can bid on Trilos
at ebay ! You can find
a lot of common bugs along with some rarities. Do some
research and shopping before you start bidding so you don't get
- The Pemphigaspida, which comes in blue or amber, is available
from Wm. Spear Designs
Most of the sources for the other pins don't seem to have
functional links right now. I'll repost them as I track
them down in the future.
- There was a time that if you want to get
connected with other Trilobite Fans on the Internet, you could
check out the YAHOO
TRILOBITES2 CLUB ! This was a place for great
photographs, and a bulletin board for exchanging news and
schizoachroidal views. It has been quiet now for several
years as everyone pretty much moved to more rapid gratification
sites such as Facebook. Even that has cooled off though.
- If you are interested in seeing and collecting trilobites, by
all means go to a major fossil show such as the Tucson Show in
February. There are a tremendous number of dealers from
all over the world and you will probably see a lot more
specimens than you ever will in a local shop, show or even most
museums. Shop around and look carefully before you
buy. A lot of trilobites are restored (see the essay on
the home page of this website for more information on this
matter!), which can be OK as long as it's well done and you know
what you are buying. Ask questions, look and above all,
THE EYES HAVE IT
Eye images above: Top Row Left to
Right: Comura, Eldredgeia venustus, Hollardops
Row L to R: Phacops, Drotops
Here is a bonus eye. It is from the Drotops
Sometimes trilobites can be
exasperating. A Drotops is a Phacops, but an
Asaphiscus is not an Asaphus. However, a Neoasaphus
is. Olenellus is not an Ollenoides, Otarion
became Cyphaspis, but appparently not every Comura
became a Philonyx. Ogygiopsis and Ogygiocarella
aren't even close. We don't really know what they ate or how
they lived. Oh well...
A final thought for your consideration. What if
trilobites were still around? What if humans indulged in
selective breeding to develop freaks of nature, as has been done
with dogs? Would they look like this?????
To see the Home Page
To see the Cambrian
Period Part 1: Agnostida and Redlichiida
To see the Cambrian
Part 2: Ptychopariida
To see the Cambrian
Part 3: Asaphida, Corynexochida and Friends
To see the
Ordovician Period Part 1 Asaphida
To see the Ordovician
Period Part 2 Lichida, Phacopida, Corynexochida,
Ptychoparidia and Proetida
To see the
To see the
Devonian Period Part 1 : Lichida, Corynexochida, Proetida and
To see the
Devonian Period Part 2: Phacopida.
Thanks for coming! If you want to know a little bit
more about me and find out whose face is on the Machocranus, go to
Oceanside Asylum Homepage
If you are interested in Dinosaurs, check out my website at Where the Dinosaurs
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