Trilobites are one of the world’s most popular fossil for
collecting along with ammonites.
They are so popular that there are a lot of fake
reproductions offered on line.
When we were digging Trilobite fossils in Morocco over 2/3rd
broke off when trying to dig out. These
fossils are found in soft clay shale rock so they could easily break.
Some are and found in
hard Nobby rocks or hard limestone rocks and so very difficult to dig in one piece.
Trilobite fossils that were small and curled up came out in good condition, it
was the larger ones that are difficult to get in one piece. It is amazing to
see the fossil in three dimensions.
Specimens with full face features are also difficult to find
as you can imagine the front eyes decay first, and are more delicate when
digging out the earth.
The miners do sometimes join broken fossils together with
resin and potch colour so it is hard to see the joint.
But if you are
offered a perfect specimen 3-4 inches long for $10.00, you can assume its fake
and just made in mould.
On our trip, we visited and worked several sites and climbed
1,000-meter mountains and the fossil diggers did earn my respect as it is hard
manual work in severe hard hot conditions with temperature reaching up to 40-45
Trilobites are from the earliest known group of extinct
marine Arthropods and vary greatly in size from a millimetre to 70 cm in length,
and distant relatives of modern lobsters, horseshoe crabs and spiders.
There are over 20,000 species of Trilobites.
What is interesting is that they produced prolifically over
huge time frame from Early Cambrian (521 million years ago) and went extinct
during the Permian mass extinction (250 million years ago).
In Morocco they were in the Devonian period (420 million to
360 million years ago) and found in several other countries including
Australia, North America, Siberia and UK.
There are 20,000 scientifically recognized trilobite species
worldwide and Morocco is the world’s best paradise for trilobite collectors.
Fake ones are still sold in towns like Marrakech and Casablanca
and aimed at tourist markets and sold on ebay.
In Morocco there are large scale fossil company’s digging
for Trilobites but a lot nomads are now making income from these fossils. One
group of Nomads we met work five areas collectively and all share in the profits. It
was less than 10 years ago that they changed from nomadic lifestyle to digging.
But still have strong communal ties and family values in that everyone shares
in such venture.
Solar power is now available in many provincial towns so
fossils can be prepared and cleaned at home.
Arthropods include millions of species that are alive today including insects,arahcnids or spiders and scorpions, millipedes or diplopodams, centipedes, orchilopdans, and crabs, shrimps and other crustraceans, trilobites.The uniting features of the artropods is their hard outer casing and usuallynumerous jointed limbs.
The name means “joint-foot”almost all rilobites had a similar body – a cephaon (head end), thorax (middle section)and pygidium (tail).However, there were exceptions (like Naraoia).
The name Trilobites does not come from this three section head to tail structure.It is derived from the three lobes seen from side to side, being the left, centraland right lobes, which were formed by two furrows or division running from head to tail.
Trilobites appeared in Cambrian times as some of the earliest of the complex, hard casedcreatures. They were adapted to a wide range of habitats, from shallow reefs to deepocean floors.
More than 5,000 genera and 15,000 species have been identified, with more discoveredevery year. Their abundance and distinctive features, which changed through time,make them useful indicator fossils for dating rock layers.