What’s wrong with them? Did you die in the middle of a choreography and so petrified? Trilobites were one of the most numerous creatures on earth. They appeared about 540 million years ago. They occupied all ecological niches in terrestrial seas and oceans. And they survived nearly 300 million years before disappearing forever. They are a strange class of arthropods, and their fossils are very numerous: the fossils that appear in a single file, which is a great mystery.
Paleontologists wondered for decades. Why do their folilized remains often appear, showing the trilobites in long rows? Did they dance the conga? A team of French and Moroccan researchers from the University of Lyon wanted to know. They published their research in Nature.
This unusual orientation of the trilobite fossils was thought to be related to how they died. You could get carried away by strong currents. Maybe it was in caves that they would have reached separately. It has been speculated that this is how they found death.
However, the authors of this study do not agree with this scenario. There was a very important clue. Trilobite fossils found in Morocco, 480 million years old, were examined. They weren’t just all adults. Most importantly, the vast majority were looking in the same direction. If the cause had been the random currents, this would not make sense. In this case the trilobites would be of all ages and in different directions. As for the theory of the caves, the scientists found no trace of them in the remains they examined.
It’s not accidental
Why do fossils appear as a single file? The researchers are convinced that the trilobite rows were “voluntary”. I mean, they got in line on purpose. Perhaps to travel to distant mating sites together (currently some species of lobsters do). They may have banded together to escape weather events like storms. The alignment would therefore have been taken over by trilobites in order to reduce the air resistance while driving. This is what birds like geese do that fly in V-shaped formations.
There is something else: the trilobites were completely blind. They couldn’t line up with sight. The researchers believe they were organized with touch, chemical signals, or a combination of both. In any case, a very complex and sophisticated behavior for such primitive creatures. The parades, immortalized for millions of years, will astonish us for a long time.