Molting in Trilobites: A New Article

Shed your mortal skin and let me take you beneath the waves.—Janet Morris

Eldredgeops miller molts, Silica Shale Formation, Devonian Period, Lucas County, Ohio
Mass of Eldredgeops milleri molts, Silica Shale Formation, Devonian Period, Lucas County, Ohio. Phacopids like these were able to molt without disarticulating their cephalons along facial sutures. Note the range of sizes of animals: Several growth stages or instars are represented here. Masses of trilobite molts are a phenomenon that occurs across the world, throughout the Paleozoic Era, and across many taxa. Specimen is about 6.5 cm long along long axis.

Because the calcitic exoskeleton of trilobites could not expand, these animals had to shed their skins or molt in order to grow. There is a considerable technical literature on this topic. In this new article, I take a brief look at this subject and try to paint a few pictures in the mind’s eye of the trilobite collector.

©2016 Christopher R. Cunningham. All rights reserved. No text or images may bed duplicated or distributed without permission.

Evidence of Predator Injuries to Trilobites: A New Article

Don’t become a mere recorder of facts, but try to penetrate the mystery of their origin. –Ivan Pavlov

Altiocculus harrisi with "bite mark," Wheeler Shale Formation, Cambrian Period,Millard County, Utah
Altiocculus harrisi with apparent “bite mark” on right pleural lobe, Wheeler Shale Formation, Cambrian Period, Millard County, Utah. Conventional wisdom is that anomalocarids caused this type of injury . . . but not so fast! Trilobite is 3.3 cm long.

Among the more fascinating aspects of trilobite paleoecology are considerations of predator-prey relationships. In this field much less is known than unknown, perhaps adding to its allure. In “Evidence of Predator Injuries to Trilobites,” I explore this subject. Enjoy! Thanks to reader and friend M.P. for pointing out that the article page was not loading.

©2016 Christopher R. Cunningham. All rights reserved. No text or images may be duplicated or distributed without permission.

Welcome to Trilobite Seas!

Beginnings are always messy. –John Galsworthy

Ditomopyge olsoni pair, Staunton Formation, Coal Run, Indiana.
Ditomopyge olsoni pair, Staunton Formation, Pennsylvanian Period, Coal Run, Indiana. The larger trilobite is about 1.8 cm long.

Hello, and welcome to my new trilobite blog! I have had a life-long interest in paleontology, especially the creatures of the Paleozoic Era. I have also been a long-time collector of trilobites. Over the past years, though, I have drifted away from my fossil friends. It’s time to get back to them!

In this blog, I will focus primarily on the paleobiology of trilobites. There will be some pretty pictures (as trilobites are quite lovely), but most of the time the goal is a scientific understanding of these animals—and getting back to the daily enjoyment of these fascinating animals and their world!

The over-arching purpose of this blog is personal growth, exploration, and enjoyment. In this enterprise, I am taking as my model my own digital bird photography blog, twoshutterbirds.com, that I started about five years ago with my wife, Elisa, as a vehicle to expand our knowledge and capability in the hobbies of birdwatching and nature photography. I hope that trilobite seas.com will get me back to the fossil shows and into the literature, field, shop, and studio!

Without further ado, I launch the website with a new article: “Cryptic Strategies in Trilobites.” Additional articles and posts will follow as time and energy allow.  I invite constructive criticism and comments.

©2016 Christopher R. Cunningham. All rights reserved. No text or images may be duplicated or distributed without permission.