Glossary of terms
Glossary of terms
Key to the Orders
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Trilobite of the
Month for November 2013 is
an outstanding example of the preservation of soft body
parts (most obviously antennae) in a member of family Nileidae
in the Order Asaphida.
This kind of preservation is extremely rare and provides
us with our only direct insight on trilobite ventral
and internal anatomy. Identification of this
specimen is tentative, because of the evolutionary trend
of effacement, which is a
minimization of surface detail, evident here in the lack
of axial furrows and pleural details in the pygidium.
This particular specimen shows exceptional coloration,
with bright orange-yellow
on the axis as well as the preserved antennae. The axial
coloration may even display preservation of the gut.
I also enjoy the petaloid articulating facets
at the ends of each thoracic segment, indicating that
this species could enroll
image is courtesy of Abdelaziz
Oumouhou and Russell Jacobson.
on the images, menu choices, or the FAQ
listings below on this page to start exploring aspects
of trilobite biology, and the salient characters that define
the orders, constituent suborders, and superfamilies.
This site has enjoyed feedback from a growing number of trilobite workers from all over the world who have
generously offered their suggestions and corrections. I gratefully acknowledge their help and encouragement.
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In these pages, you may recognize species that are common, well-known, or sitting in a familiar museum collection!
This guide might help you arrange trilobite diversity systematically, aid in identification of specimens, and enhance your understanding of these fascinating elements of Paleozoic biodiversity. Happy browsing! -- Sam Gon III
detailed, descriptive characters and representative line drawings
The information in these pages was developed via examination and synthesis of the data present in a variety of works, including the two "Trilobite Treatises:" Moore 1959 (Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, Part O, Arthropoda 1, including Trilobitomorpha) and Whittington et al 1997 (Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, Part O, Arthropoda 1, Trilobita, Revised, Volume 1: Introduction). Both may be reviewed here. Other important sources are cited in specific pages of this site, and are also listed in a brief bibliography. Sources of photos and line drawings (where not original) are clearly cited. Other trilobite web sites and individuals were inspirational sources and are cited where relevant. The three trilobite thumbnail images in the left column, for example, are c/o Andrew Milner. If you find your information or images on these pages without proper attribution, this is unintentional. Please contact me to rectify the situation.
Information about extinct animals is always subject to interpretation and differences of opinion. In particular, the higher classification of arthropods and trilobites is neither simple nor agreed upon by all trilobite workers. The summaries here are complicated by the fact that the 1997 revision of the Treatise only covers two orders in detail: Agnostida and Redlichiida. The others are in preparation, so my attempts to synthesize data on the other orders is likely to be incomplete, although the arrangement of the families and some characteristic descriptions were provided by Fortey (in Whittington et al 1997), and adjusted via recent articles (e.g., papers dealing with higher classification of the Asaphida, Proetida, Harpetida, Agnostida, and Lichida). Any errors in the information here should be attributed to the compiler, Sam Gon III. Please inform him of any problems in accuracy or interpretation.
This site's pages (and the majority of its figures) were designed and created by Dr. Sam Gon III, a biologist (PhD, Animal Behavior; MA, Zoology (Ecology, Behavior and Evolution) who is greatly intrigued by the expression of ancient biodiversity that trilobites represent. Sam's professional work is in the conservation of global biodiversity today. He serves as the Senior Scientist for The Nature Conservancy's Hawai‘i Field Office in Honolulu. Sam has long been interested in paleobiology, and in teaching himself about trilobites, using hyperlinks to cross-reference terminology and concepts, found himself developing a web resource of potential interest to a broader audience. The site was first unveiled in August 1999 and has attracted feedback from around the world, generating ongoing updates. For all the accolades this site has gathered, Sam is not a professional trilobitologist, but a devoted trilobitophile! In 2006 this culminated in his first paleontological publication, dealing with trilobite origins.
Dr. Sam Gon III c/o The Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i, 923 Nuuanu Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96817, USA
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