Sunday SciKu | Great Legs

Trilobites were among the most successful animals in the history of the planet, thriving for 250 million years before finally succumbing to the end-Permian Extinction, along with 80% of marine life. It’s the greatest extinction event in the fossil record, and we’re still not sure what caused it, being so long ago—most likely it was climate change due to the intense volcanism that created the Siberian Traps at the same time.

We do know now, though, that trilobites had gills on their legs for taking oxygen out of the water. A team at UCR took CT scans of trilobite fossils found in pyrite (fool’s gold), which managed to preserve tiny impressions of soft tissues, allowing them to examine the filaments thinner than a human hair that filtered and transported trilobite blood.

At the peak, there were more than 22,000 species of trilobites ruling the ocean floor. Their reign spans about 30% of the time since the first animals appeared. Hominids, by comparison, have been here 0.5% of the time. Humans 0.025%. It kind of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?


all your success
a trilobite found
in fool’s gold


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