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Bicknell & Smith, 2022

Examining abnormal Silurian trilobites from the Llandovery of Australia

Bicknell, R. D., Smith, P. M.
Typearticle in journal


Abnormal trilobites present insight into how arthropods with fully biomineralised exoskeletons recovered from injuries, genetic malfunctions, and pathologies. Records of abnormal Silurian trilobites in particular show an abundance of specimens with teratologies and a limited record of injuries. Here we expand the record of abnormal Silurian trilobites by presenting seven new abnormal specimens of Odontopleura (Sinespinaspis) markhami from the early Silurian (Llandovery, Telychian) Cotton Formation, New South Wales. We use these specimens to illustrate novel evidence for asymmetric distribution of pleural thoracic spine bases. These abnormal bases likely reflect genetic complications, resulting in morphologies that would unlikely have aided the fitness of abnormal individuals. In considering records of malformed Silurian trilobites more broadly, we propose that the largest trilobites may have been prey at this time. This indicates a possible change in the trophic position of trilobites when compared to Cambrian and Ordovician palaeoecosystems.


Record of abnormal Silurian trilobites
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