Gorgeous 3D printed trilobites

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Neat, but I’d rather have the real thing from Russia, Morocco, or Oklahoma.


The Open House at our college-affiliated Institute for Astronomy was demonstrating a 3-D printer last fall. The object they chose to replicate was a small vase. Something like this would have been several orders of magnitude cooler.


That’s a really cool idea. Printing an object to cast.

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Thanks, @pesco! I love the scarabs even more than the trilobites. I will definitely keep an eye on Dr. Drummond!



I went to the Houston Natural Science Museum and i never knew there was a wide variety of trilobites! I rather like the other varieties more than the kind we’re used to seeing, they have all kinds of cool horns and spikes on them but printing/casting them properly might be difficult but i think it’d be worthwhile. I’ve uploaded 3 good examples below from the pics i took of their exhibit (:


The first one looks to be a direct ancestor of the centipedes we were talking about last week… Or maybe wind scorpions.

They definitely look like they mean business when you add a few dozen spikes to a trilobite. So punk rock.

This book was featured on BB and cost me money. Really great book, though.



I looked at this a few weeks ago. Details are over at http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/58401-trilobite-3d-printing-project/

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Wait for the next round of budget cuts. Only monolobites will be available then.

…that said, cool! :smiley:

(edit: typo)

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I think the nearest living relative to them is the horseshoe crab. Bilateral symmetry. Fragile but resilient outer carapace. Possible the same blue blood? It would be neat if paleontologists could assay the surrounding fine silts in a few of the better preservation sites to see if there were elevated copper levels within ~0.2-3 cm of the fossil remains… it would be supportive of the idea that trilobites also were Cu-ligand blooded critters.

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This is an interesting suggestion, and encouraged me to look in on some newer research. In exchange I wanted to share some of what I found, if it’s ok to ramble a bit…

Horseshoe crabs do look somewhat like trilobites, particularly some of the older fossils that have visible segments, and the young which are even called “trilobite larvae”:

But similarity in over-all shape often says more about lifestyle than relationships, and the body plans are not actually so close.

Horseshoe crabs have the body in two parts, a cephalothorax with legs and an abdomen with gills. The mouthparts are pincers and they don’t have antennae. These sorts of features are shared with the extinct sea scorpions, and also what have been confirmed as their closest living relatives, the arachnids and more distantly pycnogonids.

Trilobites have two antennae and branched legs all along the body, without specializations like in modern groups, and with no DNA they’ve been hard to place. But it seems like the best guess right now is from Scholtz & Edgecomb, that all the antenna-types belong together: insects and crustaceans, centipedes and millipedes, then trilobites and others. That means the poor trilobites are not really close to any similar groups today.

As far as copper-based blood goes, though, that’s not particular to horseshoe crabs. First we know it evolved more than once, since it shows up in cephalopods like octopuses. Second it also shows up in crustaceans and has now been discovered in a centipede and spider, so it seems like it might have been common to all the early arthropods, and just lost in most that adapted to other habitats.

The question is then if palaeontologists can check for copper, and it looks like they have just recently started on it. I found a 2014 paper by Pushie, Pratt, et al. that looks at fossils from the Burgess Shale. Instead of sampling around them they use X-ray fluorescence. They didn’t find copper in trilobites but did in Marrella, another similar-looking but softer creature:

So despite them not being close to horseshoe crabs, I think there is a good chance that you are right in guessing at least some trilobites had copper-based blood, and a good chance that in a few years we may have reasonable evidence one way or the other.


Really thorough reply. A+

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You should see how they cradle their young.

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Totally unrelated but for some reason brought to mind:

(Anyone read Dutch? Usually knowing German + English gives me the gist of it but this seems kinda technical, mixed with Latin and weird. (Generatiospontanea!))


@Stynx to the rescue!

this is more my field of experience, but I can only translate weird to a different form of weird.

I can translate, if you want to. And also explain, weird is also in my realm :wink:

What it is:
It’s a joke, in a joke, in a joke, from Maurits C Escher. The name of the lito is ‘Wentelteefje’, the name of the animal is “Pedalternorotandomovens centroeulatus articulosus”.
‘Wentelteefje’ is a wordplay as such, ‘teefje’ is a ‘bitch’ (female dog) ‘wentel’ is turning around your axis.
But a ‘Wentelteefje’ is also a Dutch sweet, or way to use old bread. Turn it around in a mix of egg, milk, sugar and cinnamon and bake it.

The animal does not exist, but he made it up because he likes that. First part of the text is:
"“uit onbevredigdheid over het in de natuur ontbreken van wielvormig levende schepselen met het vermogen zich rollend voort te bewegen,” -> “Because discontent about the existence of wheel formed living animals in nature who are able to propel themselves.”
And he goes on about the animal, how it looked, moves, etc.
To be honest not really easy to translate. But if you are interested I will look into, either some already existing translation or a bigger, less eyestraining picture and look into translation. But I would highly likely not honor the very nice, older, well bespoken and funny Dutch used. But curiosity… :wink:


Look what I found. A lot better than I did :slightly_smiling:


Still not a translation.

Dutch version for the name ‘Wentelteefje’.