Friday, January 11, 2013

Creature Feature: Trilobites- K. brutoni.

Of all things this blog has covered, trilobites have not been among them. We've done Anomalocaris, triops, and various other prehistoric shelled things, but never the classic trilobite. So, for the sake of a trilobite finally having its day in the sun, here:

Cambrian (early) trilobite.

For starters: what is a trilobite, anyways? Trilobites were a huge group of extinct arthropods. They came about before the Cambrian Explosion and lasted until the Permian Extimction (252.28 Ma). They took over the world, or at least the seas, during much of their time on earth; if a landmass was underwater up to the Permian, it'll have trilobites somewhere. We are still not sure whether these bizarre creatures were more closely related to crustaceans or arachnids. This is after finding millions of trilobite specimens. Just treat them as their own thing, for now.

Trilobites are by no means rare. There were millions of them in the prehistoric seas. They had four distinct orders and several hundred genera. It is possible to tell where a fossil formation is from just by looking at the trilobites. They came in all sorts of shapes and sizes, so they were able to fit a million different niches. Now, they're so common in fossil collections that rock shops sometimes sell them for cheap. By fossil standards, anyways.

The kicker is that there were so many different trilobites that I would feel guilty compressing them all into one entry. That said, I picked what I thought was the most...shocking...out of the trilobite species: Koneprusia brutoni. 

This is the TOP of the trilobite. (Credit: Wikimedia.)

K. brutoni was one of the most elaborately-decorated trilobites in existence. It lived during the Devonian in what is now Morocco. Its genus was a member of the order Lichida, which is notorious for spiny trilobites. These spines may have evolved to coincide with the advent of jawed fishes, but nobody really knows. Alas, despite its awesome looks, information on K. brutoni is very, very sparse.

This trilobite just looks badass. You could slap this thing on a heavy metal album cover and it would sell for the sheer WTF. It's one of those trilobites that has spines all over and generally looks like something from Alien. Regrettably, there have been no horror movies about giant it. We need to break the alien/zombie fad going on.

From here. The price is exceptional for this excellent specimen.

So, what happened to all the trilobites, including K. brutoni? They slowly lost their ecological niches as time went on. Some people think that the last remnants might be horseshoe crabs and certain types of abyssal shrimp. Now trilobites are remembered as the generic "prehistoric bug...." and Kabutops, who remembers that trilobites were once badass.

I'll make YOU extinct!

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