Chinese scientists find 500-mln-year-old peculiar trilobite fossil

NANJING, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) — Chinese scientists have found a fossilized trilobite with an unusual cephalic morphology dating back around 500 million years in east China’s Shandong Province.

The 4-cm-long trilobite is named Phantaspis auritus, which is characterized by a head with an extended anterior area with a double-lobate shape resembling a pair of rabbit ears, according to Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Trilobites are a fossil group of extinct marine arthropods with a heavily calcified external skeleton that populated the oceans from about 520 million years ago to about 250 million years ago.

The discovery of this unique trilobite provides new insights into the morphological range and structural foundation of the cephalic specialization in Cambrian trilobites.

“This is the first time we have seen such strange-looking trilobite. Its peculiar head shape may bewilder natural enemies or make it easier for them to hunt for food,” said Zhao Fangchen, a researcher with the institute.

The study was recently published in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.

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