Aw heck.....not another fossil post.....
Sh'up! It's my post and I'll fossil if I want to!
Besides, this is a special fossil.
It's my birfday fossil.
As in, it's what I bought myself for my birthday. Normally, I have a budget that I can spend on things I want instead of things I need. And, usually, I buy rocks with dead things in them. Because I like rocks with dead things in them. Generally, this means I buy one or two fossils a month. Depends on how much they cost.
But this one......This one would have been at least a three month saver. Except, the owner knocked 1/3 off the price. And, that was a considerable savings. So, seeing as how Friday I turn 45, I decided to treat myself.
So, what makes this fossil so expensive? Why am I so excited to have it in my collection?
As you can see, it is a double fossil. There are two trilobites preserved in the ventral position. (ventral means they are laying on their backs, and you're looking at the belly.)
The first thing, and most noticeable at a glance, that makes this special is, the trilobite on the right seems to have some color in it. That's because it does. It's been partially pyritized. That is, when the minerals replaced the trilobite, some of the minerals were pyrite: fools gold.
Now, let me upload a closer look at it.....
Look at the gold. See the 'V' shape at the top of the head? (cephalon) Those are it's antennae. Now, look at the little piece of gold sticking out from the left side, near the top, about where the head meets the body. (cephalon meets thorax) That's a leg. And the wider part of the leg? That's the gills it used to filter oxygen out of the water.
The large lump of gold near the base of the head, (cephalon), would be it's digestive organs. And, the gold that forms a series of lines as it proceeds down the body to the tail, (thorax to pygidium), are the remains of the rest of it's legs.
It's incredibly hard to see in the picture, but some of the pyrite in the head, (cephalon), actually preserves part of one eye.
And that, is what makes this fossil so special. It's not the first one I acquired that details the remains of soft tissue, but it is, perhaps, the most striking and most dramatic. I do have another trilobite where one of the antennae was preserved, but with nowhere near the detail these antennae show. And, I have a Leanchoilia that has preserved some legs. And while the legs are distinct, they don't preserve fine detail like the gills on this specimen.
Now, as impressive as this fossil is, and as pleased as I am with it, it is by no means an exceptional example of soft body preservation. However, for a private collector on a budget, it is amazing. There are some museums that would love to have this as part of their collections. (in fact, as my collection gets larger, I am discussing having a rotating display with a local museum. Gives me a safe place to store them, plus, they would make professional labels for them)
While this fossil cost me a few hundred bucks, a really incredible example would cost in the tens of thousands. In fact, here is a picture of such an example:
That, my friends, is something I'll never be able to afford. This stellar example was taken from the same formation as the one I was able to purchase, however.
For those of you who are curious, the age of my newest trilobite is approximately 458-470 million years old.
Imagine that. A creature that was alive so many years ago that you can't possibly relate the number to actual years, and part of it's flesh is still around for me to drool over.
This, THIS, is why I love fossils.
Now, for those of you who say, "Big deal. You got some of the squishy bits.", let me put this into a little bit of perspective.
Trilobites roamed the Earth from ~575 million years ago, (mya), to 275 mya. That's a span of 300 million years. (give or take a week). Trilobites were as common as as cockroaches are today. In other words, there were trillions of them alive at any one time. Only a small percentage of trilobites that ever lived, (less than 1%), became fossils. And of those that did, only about .5% show any sort of soft tissue evidence. (not only tissue preservation, but muscle scaring that showed where muscle was attached to exoskeleton).
So, to put it into plain English, it's incredibly rare.
And, for those of you who are wondering what a trilobite would taste like, well, many people have pondered that question. Examining how they lived and what they ate, and their physiology, sciences best guess is, a trilobite would taste a lot like a cockroach.
Thank you for allowing me to indulge myself once again with another fossil post. I really do try to keep them to a minimum, but, sometimes I just can't help myself. I am still planning on another series of fossil posts once my shoulder heals enough that I can move my display cabinet to get to them. I have a Eurypterid that will knock your socks off!
Enjoy your day, and I'll be back tomorrow with another odd thing to tell you about.