Trilobite Tummies Revealed in New Fossils

Sep 27, 2017

By Stephanie Pappas

Trilobite tummies were more complex than previously believed, new fossils reveal.

The fossils, which hail from China, preserve the guts of trilobites in long, iron-rich strips. Trilobite fossils are a dime a dozen — sort of like cockroaches of the sea in that respect. They were abundant for nearly 300 million years before they went extinct about 252 million years ago — but trilobite fossils that reveal internal organs are rare, according to a new study on the fossils published Sept. 21 in the journal PLOS ONE.

The fossils show that early trilobites had crops, or stomach-like pouches that were once thought to have evolved only later in the trilobite lineage. One trilobite species even boasted a crop along with more simplified digestive glands, suggesting that the evolution of the trilobite digestive system was complicated, the researchers found. 

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