New Discovery of Trilobite Fossil with Preserved Digestive Tract Content: Insights into Feeding Habits and Lifestyle

2023-09-27 15:29:47

Research Press Release Nature September 28, 2023 A paper published this week in Nature reports on the discovery of a 465-million-year-old trilobite fossil with preserved contents of its digestive tract. Trilobites are among the most common and best-known fossil arthropods, and the newly discovered fossils provide clues to their feeding habits and lifestyle. Over 270 million years of history, from the early Cambrian period to the end of the Permian period (approximately 541 million to 252 million years ago), more than 20,000 species of trilobites existed. Although there are many fossil specimens of trilobites, their feeding habits have only been indirectly inferred. This is because no fossil specimens containing the contents of the digestive tract have been reported. Here, Petr Kraft, Per E. Ahlberg, and colleagues report on a fossil trilobite (Bohemolichas incola) discovered in Middle Ordovician strata (dated to approximately 465 million years ago) in what is now the Czech Republic. ing. The fossil trilobite’s digestive tract was packed with fragments of shells from marine organisms such as ostracods, hyolites, bivalves, and stylophorans. The authors suggest that B. incola was an opportunistic scavenger. The trilobite fed on dead or living animals, chewing up animals that could easily be crushed and swallowing small animals whole. When the trilobite died, it became food for other scavengers. The fossil specimens reported here also show evidence of vertical movement by this second scavenger. The scavenger burrowed into the trilobite’s carcass, targeting the soft tissue but avoiding the digestive tract. This suggests that the inside of the trilobite’s digestive system may have been in toxic conditions, allowing enzyme activity to persist. doi:10.1038/s41586-023-06567-7 “Highlights of Nature related journals” is a translation of a release prepared for the press by the Nature Public Relations Department. If you require more accurate and detailed information, please be sure to refer to the original paper. Return to “Notable Highlights” article list

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