» Home > In the News

Trilobite Heaven

4 July 2024
Biology, Catastrophism, Geology

Trilobites are the darlings of some geologists. Those with a fondness of collecting fossils. They come in different sizes and mostly can be held in the hand with ease. In Morocco tourists are the target of clever locals who find trilobites, clean them up and probably embellish them to a degree, as that is how they make a living.

At https://phys.org/news/2024-06-pristine-trilobite-fossils-scientific-extinct.html … we have news of some of the best preserved three dimensional trilobite fossils ever discovered. No need for a local to spruce them up. They were discovered in the High Atlas of Morocco.

Robert also sent in a link to https://www.livescience.com/animals/extinct-species/stunning-3d-images-show-anatomy-of-500-million-year-old-cambrian-trilobites-entombed-in-volcanic-ash …. the trilobites display a remarkable state of preservation. This seems to be due to a very quick entombment in volcanic ash. However, these are sea creatures – how are they preserved in volcanic ash? Preservation of soft parts of trilobites are not especially unusual – but here we have 3D preservation that is something never seen before. In fact, preservation might be the wrong word in  this case as the fine ash has filled the cavities of the trilobites and it is the outline of those soft parts that scientists are looking at.

We are told that volcanic ash in a shallow marine setting was involved – but even this dilution doesn’t seem to be enough to preserve those soft parts so magnificently. Would not the water wash away the ash? No doubt they have given this the necessary thought process. Trilobites are found in all kinds of marine settings – deep as well as shallow water. One may wonder if this is part of a much bigger catastrophic event that erupted ocean water over land that was afflicted with at least one volcano, if not more than one. The ash is a given. However, the ocean habitat is also a given. Whatever, the useful thing is that the fine ash preserved the profile of the trilobites in remarkable detail. Each segment of their bodies, their legs, even hair like structures that ran along the appendages. Even, I might add, the digestive tract was preserved as it had been filled up with the ash. Nothing much has been discovered that was not already known, or suspected. There are after all many, many trilobite fossils, that have been dug out of rocks. People have spent their careers studying them. If they had begun with these trilobites it would have saved a lot of time and study. At least, their endeavours have been proven mostly correct.

Skip to content