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Science, Maths & Technology

Tym the Trilobite: I eat you

Updated Thursday, 18th September 2008

Tym, the predator!

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Trilobite detail

As you can imagine, living in so many different habitats we trilobites developed a number of different ways of feeding. There were a whole bunch of boring ‘slowcoach’ relatives who were just content to shuffle around the sea floor scavenging for bits of organic matter... Yuck – not my idea of a decent or healthy diet!

I’m more of a red-meat man myself. Yes, quite a few of us early trilobites were predators. You wouldn’t think it to look at us, but there you go, never judge a book by the cover - and never underestimate a cockroach or a woodlouse again! My kind of trilobites fed on creatures living on the sea floor – things called marine worms.

The same kind of critters are still living today, you can find them in the mud on tidal flats when the sea goes out.

I just don’t get this whole evolution thing – we preyed on them, but now we’re extinct and they’re still around. How does that work? Is that ironic or what?

Anyway, here’s your first trilobite hunting lesson:

You start by checking out the neighbourhood - that’s the ocean floor. Think of it as the African Serengeti Plain is today, and you’re a lion. Use your crystalline eyes and long feelers search out your prey. You’re looking for a worm in its burrow.

Once you’ve found it, you sneak up on it, and then ‘zap’ reach down with your legs and feelers, pull it out of its burrow, wrestle with it and finally use your leg spines to crush it and shove it in your mouth– gruesome!

We trilobites have got a pretty big mouth actually – if you include the parts of our legs that we use for crushing prey – then it would be like you having a mouth that extends all the way from your jaw to your belly-button!

Interview with the trilobite





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