The humble trilobite, the helmet-headed creature that swam in the sea hundreds of millions of years ago, hid an extraordinary secret – the unprecedented “excessive eye” in the animal kingdom.
By tracking X-ray Images and researchers have found that specific types of trilobites – extinct arthropods that are remotely related to crabs – have their own neural network that transmits hundreds of lenses and signals and numerous optic nerves. September 30 in the magazine Scientific reports.
Belong to: Why are trilobites extinct?
Today’s arthropods, such as the dragonflies and the Mantis shrimp, are known for their powerful combination eyes, each with its own lens like disco ball and numerous eye features known as omatidia.
But, according to new discoveries, the family trilobites Vacops had much larger and more complex eyes than their modern arthropod relatives. Each of his eyes (one on the left and the other on the right) had hundreds of lenses. At one millimeter in length, these primary lenses are thousands of times larger than conventional arthropods. Below them, like the bulbs in a car’s headlights, are six (or more) structures similar to a typical compound eye. “So every big pacopedal eye is a high compound eye with 200 compound eyes,” Brigitte Schmann, an archaeologist at the University of Cologne in Germany, said in an email to LiveScience.
Trilobites are organisms that lived from the beginning The Cambrian period (521 million years ago) until the end of the Permian period (252 million years ago) at sea sites. Some may be predators of aquatic worms, although most are scavengers or plankton eaters. Limestones have been common since the Cambrian period. But despite being found everywhere in the fossil record, scientists still have questions about their physiology and evolutionary history.
To answer some of these questions, the researchers interspersed with recent discoveries and examined dozens of archive photos using image enhancement techniques. In the process, they also settled a long-standing scientific debate: they confirmed that a mysterious string of “fibers” seen in X-ray images 40 years ago were actually optic nerves connected to trilobite eyes.
Nigel Hughes, a trilobite expert at Riverside University in California, says: “It’s always difficult to determine the function of an ancient, endangered species. Smithsonian Institution.
However, it is slightly easier for the eyes to penetrate than for teeth or horns, Hughes said, because the visual systems have only one function: vision. “We know it’s an eye from the skeleton,” he said, so the connecting fibers mean nerves. “I think it was discussed very firmly in the paper.” Why trilobites may require so much visual strength remains a mystery.
X-ray images were taken by Siemens-based professional radiologist and amateur paleontologist Wilhelm Stormer. In the 1970s, Stormer installed an X-ray probe on his Volkswagen bus and developed a new method of studying fossils: X-ray polyontology, which allowed the site to view hard rock and take intricate fossil images. Day
While exploring the Hansrock list, far from his home in Munich, Germany, Stormer discovered a world of catastrophic creatures embedded in the rock. To a large extent, these specimens – including the trilobite sac – are well preserved so that their soft tissues are visible. Stormer and his collaborator John Bergstrom described the trilobites as fossils of “fibers” attached to their common eyes, which they described in the June 1973 issue. Archaeological Journal.
But when Stormer drew the attention of other archaeologists to these discoveries, Schumann said, “his colleagues in the scientific world mocked him.” The wisdom of the time was that soft tissues, such as nerves, were not mere fossils. Schumann argues that Stormer Gill’s fibers should be mistaken for optic nerve tissue, his critics have argued. However, the radiologist was adamant in his belief.
“Stormer believed in his theory until his death and filled it with bitterness in 1986,” Schoenman said. Nearly half a century later, Skyman and his crew finally realized that their work had been proven.
Unfortunately, like Wilhelm Stormer, we no longer have trilobite phagocytes – they finally became extinct 358 million years ago. Devonian periodWith 75% of life on Earth, Schumann said. “But certainly not with their very developed, short eyes.”
First published in live science.