Researchers have discovered in the Czech Republic the fossilized remains of a trilobite that escaped imminent death more than 450 million years ago.
Only the head remains of the ancient marine arthropod. Scientists believe that a huge sea scorpion (an extinct arthropod of the order Eurypterida) could have inflicted scratches on its shell and head shield. The ancient scorpion also stripped a trilobite of one eye.
Such fossils of trilobites surviving a head injury are rare. This particular specimen (a member of the species Dalmanitina socialis) was able not only to survive, but also to grow a new eye to replace the lost one. Therefore, this fossil is of particular scientific interest.
The reconstructed eye of the trilobite was somewhat displaced, and its structure was not as perfect as that of the previous one, but it performed its visual function correctly. This was found by the authors of a work published in the scientific journal International Journal of Paleopathology.
Scratches on the carapace of this trilobite could have been made by pincers or claws. Scientists are inclined to believe that this "sea tank" could have fallen prey to the shellfish, also known as the sea scorpion.
Fossil of the shellfish Eurypterus remipes.
Photo by Eduard Solà Vázquez / CC BY-SA 3.0.
Crayfish existed throughout the Paleozoic, and could be the size of a human hand or larger than a whole person, ScienceAlert reports. For such sea monsters, trilobites were easy and frequent prey.
Modern cephalopods such as octopuses are known to pierce the eyes of crabs, which are then eaten. They do this with two powerful jaws, which researchers call a beak.
However, the authors of the new work did not find evidence that the trilobite's eye was pierced. In addition, in the same region, near the fossils of trilobites, the remains of sea scorpions have already been found. Their pincers were perfectly adapted to scratching and "amputation" of body parts of victims.
Therefore, the researchers concluded that the "main suspect" in causing terrible injuries to the trilobite is a large arthropod: most likely a giant sea scorpion.