Ancient 'Cockroaches of the Sea' Fossilized While Playing 'Follow the Leader'

livescience.com | 10/17/2019 | Stephanie Pappas - Live Science Contributor
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The trilobites go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah … well, at least they did, some 480 million years ago.

New fossils from Morocco show lines of trilobites in orderly queues, likely buried by a storm as they trekked from one place to another under the Ordovician seas in an ancient game of "follow the leader."

People - Behavior - Something - Course - Evolution

"I think people think that collective behavior is something new in the course of evolution, but actually sophisticated behavior started very, very early," said study leader Jean Vannier, a paleontologist at the University of Lyon in France.

The trilobites were blind, so they may have used their spiny body projections to keep in touch with one another as they moved along in a queue.

Vannier - Colleagues - Marrakech - Morocco - Trilobites

Vannier and colleagues from Marrakech, Morocco, discovered the trilobites in the southern part of Morocco in an area known for well-preserved fossils of animals from the early Ordovician, a geologic period that began about 485 million years ago and is one of six periods that make up the Paleozoic era. The Ordovician is famous for its diverse marine life, from primitive fish to corals to undersea scorpions the size of human beings. Trilobites — arthropods that looked a bit like cockroaches — also scuttled around the Ordovician seafloor or swam through its oceans. These resilient creatures first evolved during the period before the Ordivician, the Cambrian, and survived two mass extinctions (one at the end of the Ordovician, about 444 million years ago, and one at the end of the Devonian, about 360 million years ago). Trilobites didn't disappear until 252 million years ago, when a mass extinction at the end of the Permian period wiped out 95% of all species on Earth.

Not much is known about how trilobites behaved, but some fossil evidence hints that they didn't swim...
(Excerpt) Read more at: livescience.com
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