Trilobite with Most Unusual Color Preservation
Order Phacopida, Family Phacopidae
Time: Middle Cambrian
mm = 1 inch): Trilobite is 22 mm long (if straight) by 14 mm wide Matrix:
20 mm by 20 mm by 50 mm high
Hamilton Group, Ellicottville, Cattaraugus County, New York
This is a most unusual trilobite. Notice the pleasing café
au lait color, and the regular darkened spots to the exoskeleton.
These marking have been interpreted as the positions of internal
muscle attachments. An alternative hypothesis is that the dark spots
are actually preserved melanophores that could expand an contract,
enabling the trilobite to change color as it moved about the seafloor
surface much like the extant Plaice and Sole. Whatever the correct
interpretation, these colors are of natural, rather than diagenic
origin. The specimens were collected from a site on the border with
Pennsylvania several decades ago, and to my knowledge specimens
such as these have not been offered commercially until recently.
This fine partially enrolled example is self-displayed on a matrix
pedestal which has a flattened base.
another example, see:
Thomas E. Whiteley et al, Trilobites of New York, Plate 103.
Paleontology Vol. 11, Part 4, 1968 pp 498-9
trilobite pictures to enlarge