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Trilobite Fossil Reveals World’s Oldest Cannibalism, What Animal Is It? page all

KOMPAS.com – Recent studies reveal the world’s oldest cannibalism, revealed from fossils of trilobites, ocean-dwelling predators hundreds of millions of years ago.

Trilobites are the ancestors of extinct marine arthropods that first appeared in the fossil record about 541 million years ago.

Quoted from Live ScienceThursday (7/4/2022), long before dinosaurs existed, ancient trilobites could bite each other brutally on the Cambrian seabed.

The new study reveals that these armored predators don’t just hunt smaller and weaker animals for their prey.

However, sometimes, trilobites will also bite from the same species. The finding of this trilobite or trilobite fossil is the earliest evidence of cannibalism in the fossil record to date.

Also read: Australian Experts Find Fossils Of The Trilobite King, The Ruler Of The Early Earth

Trilobites were sturdy creatures with thick exoskeletons, which may be one reason why many trilobite fossils have been so well preserved.

Paleontologist at the University of New England in Australia, Russell Bicknell has spent five years examining trilobite fossils from the Emu Bay Shale formation on Kangaroo Island in South Australia.

In his study there were two species of trilobites that he observed, namely trilobite Redlichia takooensis dan trilobite Redlichia rex.

Many fossils of the trilobite R. takooensis have been found with bite marks, mostly on the hind end.

Based on an analysis of this study of trilobite fossils, paleontologists have assumed that it is likely that the trilobite R. rex made its food from R. takooensis, indicating cannibalism among these ancient deep-ocean inhabitants.

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Also read: 36 Million Year Old Whale Fossil Found in the Peruvian Desert

SHUTTERSTOCK/MERLIN74 Trilobite, trilobite, trilobite fossils. The results showed that the eyes of these ancient animals were similar to the compound eyes of modern crustaceans and bees.

Meanwhile in the Emu Bay formation, fossilized petrified faeces, called coprolites, left by R. rex contain the remains of trilobite shells.

This indicates that the trilobite R. rex has the ability to eat smaller trilobite species. What was unexpected, however, were the similar bite marks on R. rex.

The researchers concluded that the bite marks on the trilobite fossils were likely the result of cannibalism.

“There aren’t many more in this deposit that have toolkitwhich is biomechanically optimized for this kind of thing, and can willingly crush anything hard,” Bicknell said.

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Researchers suspect that it appears that the trilobite R. rex was born to hunt trilobites, and it appears that either species is of little importance.

While the discovery of trilobite fossils has revealed examples of the earliest documented cannibalism in animals, Bicknell said it is possible that cannibalism was much older and more widespread than the fossils reveal.

“I would say that arthropods have been eating arthropods since the beginning of arthropods becoming arthropods,” Bicknell said.

Trilobite fossil study reveals world’s oldest cannibalism, published in journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology on April 1 last.

Also read: 42 million-year-old tooth fossil reveals the first sword-toothed mammal

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