Facts about Trilobites, an extinct prehistoric animal

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Dinosaur Jungle   >   Other Prehistoric Animals   >   Trilobites

Trilobites



Trilobite Fossil
Click here for more Trilobite Pictures

Scientific Classification
  Kingdom Animalia
  Superphylum Ecdysozoa
  (unranked) Panarthropoda
  Phylum Arthropoda
  Class Trilobita
Trilobites are an extinct group of arthropods (the same phylum that contains insects, spiders, crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters, centipedes, millipedes, etc.). They first appeared in the early Cambrian period about 530 million years ago, were largely wiped out during the late Devonian mass extinction about 364 million years ago, and finally went completely extinct during the Permian-Triassic mass extinction that took place 248 million years ago.

Trilobites are one of the most well-known fossil groups, and highly diverse, and are found in many different locations. Over 17,000 species are known from fossils, which are usually just of the animal's exoskeleton, although occasionally soft bodies are also found in fossils. The fact that Trilobites are so widespread and diverse, and that they evolved rapidly over time, often allows their use as "index fossils" - that is to say that rocks can be dated based on the particular type of Trilobites found within them.

Trilobite fossil

During life, all Trilobites are believed to have been exclusively marine organisms, although they do appear to have led many different lifestyles. Trilobites lived in both shallow and deep water, and although most lived in the seas, there is some evidence (such as trace fossils) that some species may have been able to live in freshwater. Various different types of Trilobites are believed to have been swimming plankton feeders, predators, scavengers, and in some cases, to have even got their food from symbiotic sulfur-eating bacteria.

One final interesting fact about Trilobites is that they are not thought to have been able to cross deep oceans. Thus, the presence of two distinct types of Trilobites (as well two distinct types of Graptolites) of Trilobites in the rocks of Europe and North America is suggestive that an ocean (known as the "Iapetus Ocean") once divided the two continents. The Iapetus Ocean is thought to have closed-up again when all the continents joined together in the super-continent of Pangaea - when a new ocean (the Atlantic Ocean), separating Europe and North America, did subsequently form when Pangaea broke up, it did so along a different line of separation.

Trilobites Timeline:



Trilobites were arthropods that lived in the seas between 530 and 248 million years ago

Trilobites were arthropods that lived in the seas between 530 and 248 million years ago


Related Information & Resources


See Also

Trilobite Books


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The Trilobite Book: A Visual Journey
By Riccardo Levi-Setti

University of Chicago Press
Hardcover (288 pages)

The Trilobite Book: A Visual Journey
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  • University of Chicago Press
Product Description:
Distant relatives of modern lobsters, horseshoe crabs, and spiders, trilobites swam the planet’s prehistoric seas for 300 million years, from the Lower Cambrian to the end of the Permian eras―and they did so very capably. Trilobite fossils have been unearthed on every continent, with more than 20,000 species identified by science. One of the most arresting animals of our pre-dinosaur world, trilobites are also favorites among the fossil collectors of today, their crystalline eyes often the catalyst for a lifetime of paleontological devotion. And there is no collector more devoted―or more venerated―than Riccardo Levi-Setti. With The Trilobite Book, a much anticipated follow-up to his classic Trilobites, Levi-Setti brings us a glorious and revealing guide to these surreal arthropods of ancient Earth.

Featuring specimens from Bohemia to Newfoundland, California to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, and Wales to the Anti-Atlas Mountains of Morocco, Levi-Setti’s magnificent book reanimates these “butterflies of the seas” in 235 astonishing full-color photographs. All original, Levi-Setti’s images serve as the jumping-off point for tales of his global quests in search of these highly sought-after fossils; for discussions of their mineralogical origins, as revealed by their color; and for unraveling the role of the now-extinct trilobites in our planetary history.

Sure to enthrall paleontologists with its scientific insights and amateur enthusiasts with its beautiful and informative images, The Trilobite Book combines the best of science, technology, aesthetics, and personal adventure. It will inspire new collectors for eras to come.
Trilobite: Eyewitness to Evolution
By Richard Fortey

Vintage
Released: 2001-11-13
Paperback (320 pages)

Trilobite: Eyewitness to Evolution
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With Trilobite, Richard Fortey, paleontologist and author of the acclaimed Life, offers a marvelously written, smart and compelling, accessible and witty scientific narrative of the most ubiquitous of fossil creatures.

Trilobites were shelled animals that lived in the oceans over five hundred million years ago. As bewilderingly diverse then as the beetle is today, they survived in the arctic or the tropics, were spiky or smooth, were large as lobsters or small as fleas. And because they flourished for three hundred million years, they can be used to glimpse a less evolved world of ancient continents and vanished oceans. Erudite and entertaining, this book is a uniquely exuberant homage to a fabulously singular species.
Good Night, Trilobite
By Steve Vanlandingham

White Dog Press
Hardcover (52 pages)

Good Night, Trilobite
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Trilobites are small water animals that lived long before the dinosaurs. Some of the richest trilobite fossil deposits in the world are found within the Chickasaw Nation's boundaries in southern Oklahoma. Good Night, Trilobite is a story about Tony the trilobite and his friends, Becky the brachiopod and Bryan the bryozoan, who lived 415 million years ago on the sea floor of what would one day be the Chickasaw Nation. When a hungry cephalopod named Seth shows up, Tony and his friends find themselves in trilobite trouble! This fun and educational introduction to creatures from the Paleozoic era and the fossils they left behind includes a glossary of scientific terms, Chickasaw language vocabulary words, and a downloadable version of the Trilobite Song, written and performed by author Steve Vanlandingham.
Trilobites (Books for Young Learners)
By Lola M. Schaefer

Richard C. Owen Publishing
Paperback (12 pages)

Trilobites (Books for Young Learners)
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Red Finds His Way: A Trilobite's Tale
By Rayleen Williams

Independently published
Paperback (87 pages)

Red Finds His Way: A Trilobite s Tale
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Red Finds His Way is the story of a trilobite named Red growing up. Red lived in a tropical lagoon 518 million years ago. One day Red sees a group of animals gathering together. He calls them Threepieces. A dark shadowy monster comes and attacks them, but the Threepieces chase the monster away. Red admires how clever and brave they are. He wants to be like them. The next morning Red wakes up and discovers that all the Threepieces have disappeared. Red decides to look for them. As Red searches, he, like many children today, is bullied. The other animals in the lagoon hit, attack, and call him names. Red feels sad, scared, and alone. He doesn’t know what to do. How can he stop the bullies? Will he ever find Threepieces?This fable describes what it is like to be bullied, but more importantly, the story shows how to deal with bullies and overcome attacks. With help Red makes friends, and the bullies learn how their behavior hurts others. This story describes bullying, but more importantly it is about learning how to bounce back from hardships and find our way—find our Threepieces. Red’s tale can help our children learn resilience.
In the Past: From Trilobites to Dinosaurs to Mammoths in More Than 500 Million Years
By David Elliott

Candlewick
Released: 2018-03-20
Hardcover (48 pages)

In the Past: From Trilobites to Dinosaurs to Mammoths in More Than 500 Million Years
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Product Description:
Return to the prehistoric era and discover a host of creatures both novel and familiar, from the mysterious trilobite to the famed T. rex.

Care to meet a dunkleosteus? An apatosaurus? How about the dragonflyesque meganaura? In a collection that’s organized chronologically by epoch and is sure to intrigue everyone from armchair dino enthusiasts to budding paleontologists, David Elliott and Matthew Trueman illuminate some of the most fascinating creatures ever to evolve on the earth. Combining poems both enlightening and artful with illustrations perfect for poring over, this volume ensures fascinating trips back to a time as enthralling and variable as any in our planet’s evolutionary history.
Trilobites: Common Trilobites of North America (A NatureGuide Book)
By Jasper Burns

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Paperback (102 pages)

Trilobites: Common Trilobites of North America (A NatureGuide Book)
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Product Description:
A survey of representative trilobite species from North America. It includes meticulous line drawings of 42 species, with information for each concerning classification, geologic range, and geographical distribution. Descriptions of probable life style, similar species, interesting features, etc. are also given.The 8 page, illustrated Introduction includes discussions of trilobite anatomy, growth, vision, lifestyles, locomotion, feeding, classification, and extinction. A brief "suggested reading" list is also offered.
Trilobites of New York: An Illustrated Guide (Comstock Books)
By Thomas E. Whiteley & Carlton E. Brett

Brand: Comstock Publishing Associates
Hardcover (400 pages)

Trilobites of New York: An Illustrated Guide (Comstock Books)
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"Trilobites are the most lifelike of fossils―many well-preserved specimens belie their great antiquity and seem almost ready to arch their bodies, peer about with their compound eyes, and crawl forward as if to complete a journey that was interrupted hundreds of millions of years ago."―from the Foreword

"New York State is and has long been a magnet for trilobite hunters.... New York's trilobites were among the first illustrated fossils in North America.... Many outstanding localities in New York State, from the majestic Ordovician limestone bluffs of Trenton Falls, to the Silurian beds in the great gorge of Niagara River, to the Devonian shale cliffs of Lake Erie, continue to yield abundant and spectacular trilobite fossils. New York strata have also yielded more trilobites with preserved appendages and other "soft parts" than almost any other region of the world.... Spectacular, ornate trilobites from New York ranging from a few millimeters to nearly a half meter in length, are featured in museums all over the world."―from the Preface

This superbly illustrated book reviews the trilobite fossils found throughout New York State, including their biology, methods of taphonomy (preservation of specimens), and the broader Paleozoic geology of the state. A general chapter on the geology of New York State places the importance of these now-extinct invertebrate marine animals into context. Sixty-seven line drawings and 175 black-and-white photographs illustrate individual species, many represented here by type specimens, and display the eerie beauty that has made New York State trilobites favorites of collectors the world over.

Trilobites of Black Cat Mountain
By George P. Hansen

iUniverse
Hardcover (404 pages)

Trilobites of Black Cat Mountain
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  • A photographic guide to Oklahoma's Devonian trilobites.
  • The geological history of Coal County, Oklahoma.
  • Descriptions of rock formations where trilobites are found.
  • Excavation and restoration of trilobites.
A photographic atlas of the Lower Devonian trilobites of Oklahoma, with helpful information to aid in their identification.

Trilobites are a well-known fossil group, possibly second most famous only to dinosaurs. With their easily fossilized exoskeleton, they left an extensive and diverse fossil record. They began a drawn-out decline to extinction during Late Devonian time, when all but one of the trilobite orders died out.

This meticulously researched reference guide is a photographic atlas and descriptive compendium on the trilobites of Coal County, Oklahoma. The species described lived during the Lower Devonian in a shallow tropical ocean that had advanced over the landscape of North America. More than twenty species are exquisitely preserved in Oklahoma's limestone rocks.

Each species is carefully illustrated, including thorough descriptions, so that those familiar and unfamiliar can understand and appreciate these amazing creatures. The most current scientific research on these trilobites is also included. For those wishing to pursue a deeper interest in trilobites, a comprehensive bibliography lists hundreds of sources of information for further study.

Trilobites of the World: An Atlas of 1000 Photographs
Siri Scientific Press
Paperback

Trilobites of the World: An Atlas of 1000 Photographs
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