Trilobites may be the archetypal fossils, symbols of an archaic world long swept beneath the ruthless road grader of time.
At the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Brian T. Huber, chairman of paleobiology, points to a flawless specimen of Walliserops, a five-inch trilobite that swam the Devonian seas around what is now Morocco some 150 million years before the first dinosaurs hatched.
Other researchers have found evidence that some trilobites were highly social, migrating long distances in a head-to-tail procession as they searched for food, or gathering together during molting season at a kind of Trilo’s Retreat, where the trilobites could simultaneously shuck off their carapaces and seek out mates.
Toward the end of the Paleozoic Era, the once-thriving trilobite tribe had been reduced to a scattering of species. And they, too, vanished in the great Permian extinction 252 million years ago.
Via The New York Times.