Spectacular Bellacartwrightia Trilobite with Preserved Color Patterns

Bellacartwrightia whiteleyi Trilobite

Class Trilobita, Trilobite Order Phacopida, Suborder Phacopina, Superfamily Acastoidea, Family Acastidae

Geological Time: Middle Devonian

Size: Trilobite is 37 mm long

Fossil Site: Hamburg Group, Erie County, New York

Bellacartwrightia whiteleyi TrilobiteDescription: This is a most unusual trilobite. Notice the pleasing café au lait color, and the regular darkened spots to the exoskeleton. These markings have been interpreted as the positions of internal muscle attachments. An alternative hypothesis is that the dark spots are actually preserved melanophores which could expand and contract, allowing 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.

Reference: Paleontology Vol. 11, Part 4, 1968 pp 498-9.

click trilobite pictures to enlarge

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