Saturday, 8 May 2021


This bronzed beauty is the Middle Devonian, Eifelian (~395 mya) trilobite, Paralejurus rehamnanus (Alberti, 1970) from outcrops near Issoumour, Alnif, Morocco in North Africa. 

It was the colour of this amazing trilobite that captured the eye of David Appleton in whose collection it now resides. He is an avid collector and coming into his own as a macro photographer. I have shared three of his delightful photos for you here.

It initially thought that the gold we see here was added during prep, particularly considering the colouration of the matrix, but macro views of the surface show mineralization and the veins running right through the specimen into the matrix. There is certainly some repairs but that is common in the restoration of these specimens. Many of the trilobites I have seen from Morocco have bronze on black colouring but not usually this pronounced. Even so, there is a tremendous amount of fine anatomy to explore and enjoy in this wonderfully preserved specimen.  

Paralejurus is a genus of trilobite in the phylum Arthropoda from the Late Silurian to the Middle Devonian of Africa and Europe. These lovelies grew to be up to nine centimetres, though the fellow you see here is a wee bit over half that size at 5.3 cm. 

Paralejurus specimens are very pleasing to the eye with their long, oval outline and arched exoskeletons. 

Their cephalon or head is a domed half circle with a smooth surface.  The large facet eyes have very pleasing crescent-shaped lids. You can see this rather well in the first of the photos here. The detail is quite remarkable.

As you move down from his head towards the body, there is an almost inconspicuous occipital bone behind the glabella in the transition to his burnt bronze thorax.

The body or thorax has ten narrow segments with a clearly arched and broad axial lobe or rhachis. The pygidium is broad, smooth and strongly fused in contrast to the genus Scutellum in the family Styginidae, which has a pygidium with very attractive distinct furrows that I liken to the look of icing ridges on something sweet — though that may just be me and my sweet tooth talking. In Paralejurus, they look distinctly fused — or able to fuse — to add posterior protection against predators with both the look and function of Roman armour.

In Paralejurus, the axillary lobe is rounded off and arched upwards. It is here that twelve to fourteen fine furrows extend radially to complete the poetry of his body design. 

Trilobites were amongst the earliest fossils with hard skeletons and they come in many beautiful forms. While they are extinct today, they were the dominant life form at the beginning of the Cambrian. 

As a whole, they were amongst some of the most successful of all early animals — thriving and diversifying in our ancient oceans for almost 300 million years. The last of their brethren disappeared at the end of the Permian — 252 million years ago. Now, we enjoy their beauty and the scientific mysteries they reveal about our Earth's ancient history.

Photos and collection of the deeply awesome David Appleton. Specimen: 5.3 cm.