Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Built-in eyeshade offers clue to prehistoric past

19.09.2003


A new, rare fossil of a prehistoric sea creature bearing eyes like "twin towers" sheds light on how it lived more than 395 million years ago, says a University of Alberta researcher.



Dr. Brian Chatterton, one of the world’s leading experts on trilobites and a professor in the U of A’s Faculty of Science, reports on the discovery of the only known complete specimen of a particular trilobite in this week’s edition of the prestigious scientific journal Science.

Trilobites were among the most active animals in the sea--they ran around the sea floor and occasionally burrowed in the sediment or swam around. They had eyes similar to those of their distant relatives, the insects, but they also had antennae, making it possible to see and touch the world around them.


Chatterton was recently contacted by Richard Fortey of the Natural History Museum in London after a commercial dealer offered the specimen--phacopoid trilobite Erbenochile----found in Morocco, for sale. Fortey turned to Chatterton to learn exactly what and how rare the specimen was. They soon discovered that its several exaggerated and unique features made it of "more than normal interest" to paleontologists.

Unlike other trilobites eyes, the giant eyes on this specimen stand up like twin towers or have extensions of their palpebral lobes that stretch outward above the eye.

"These lobes would have acted like a lens shade on a camera or a baseball hat brim on humans. They prevented unwanted light from entering the lenses which would otherwise bounce around and cause a fuzziness in the image seen by the trilobite animal," said Chatterton. "These trilobites lived at a time--395 million years ago--when large predatory fishes capable of crushing shelled animals were becoming common for the first time, and perhaps acute vision allowed these trilobites to escape or hide from being eaten."

Despite some suggestion that the species was nocturnal, this finding shows that the trilobite may have operated during daylight hours. Distinct and unusual features seldom appear in evolution as random occurrences without offering some practical use, said Chatterton.

Since most of our knowledge of the world at the time of this trilobite is based on the fossils preserved on what was the sea floor of the ancient continental shelves, this discovery is an interesting new feature that helps us understand how some animals lived centuries ago.

Phoebe Dey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ualberta.ca/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Key evidence associating hydrophobicity with effective acid catalysis
25.03.2019 | Tokyo Metropolitan University

nachricht Bacteria may travel thousands of miles through the air globally
25.03.2019 | Rutgers University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The taming of the light screw

DESY and MPSD scientists create high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might find intriguing applications in petahertz electronics and for spectroscopic studies of novel quantum materials.

The nonlinear process of high-order harmonic generation (HHG) in gases is one of the cornerstones of attosecond science (an attosecond is a billionth of a...

Im Focus: Magnetic micro-boats

Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.

The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...

Im Focus: Self-healing coating made of corn starch makes small scratches disappear through heat

Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.

Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Bacteria may travel thousands of miles through the air globally

25.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Key evidence associating hydrophobicity with effective acid catalysis

25.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Drug diversity in bacteria

25.03.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>