Monday, April 7, 2008

Trilobite Blog Has Moved!


Direct Link to the New Blog:

I've been talking and dropping tantalizing hints about moving to my own URL for a little while. I never gave away the address (Although one enterprising blogger, who shall remain nameless, discovered it nonetheless), because I didn't want a whole bunch of people to see it before it was done.

Well, it's done now. I am very pleased to announce the launching of, the new, improved home of the Trilobite Blog, now renamed the eTrilobite Blog. I'm very pleased with the design, which took a long time to perfect, and even longer to perfect for viewing in both IE and Firefox.

So, loyal readers, change your bookmarks today! I look forward to seeing you all at!

I will miss Blogger though, a little on the inside. We've had some good times together!

Farewell Blogger! Parting is such sweet sorrow!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Coming Soon... The Future of the Trilobite Blog!

Hey fossil fans,

Sorry about the lack of a decent update today. I'm madly working on my new website, with a view to launching it in the next couple of hours, and thus, I have no time for a "real" entry. Sorry!

But stay tuned, as I reveal Trilobite Blog's new home!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Real Jean-Baptiste Lamarck?

Well, I set out to write something about Lamarck today, and as usual, I ran into a brick wall that prevented me from writing the article I set out to write. This is the nature of history. I think I have a great story, but the facts just don't fit it. I guess I'll leave the lying to those with less scruples.

The problems started when I looked beyond Wikipedia for better information. Always a bad idea. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of Wikipedia, but I also belong to the school of thought that considers multiple sources to be better. This is almost as fatal a flaw as honesty. If I'd just stick to Wikipedia, my life would be easy, and my views on history would fit into a tidy, sometimes one sided, little box.

So I set out looking for articles explaining Lamarck's theories on evolution, and their significance to the history of science. I ran into an article that threw me for a bit of a loop, even though nothing in it really surprised me. You can find the article here. It's done by a group called the Textbook League, and basically rails against textbooks that overstate Lamarck's work in an attempt to pit Lamarck against Darwin in a sort of evolutionary battle royale. It states that Lamarck's achievements are overstated, and made more scientific than they actually were.

Of course, I was aware that a great deal of Lamarck's theory was total bunk, and that much of it was taken from earlier works. His belief that evolution works towards "perfection" is hardly helpful, and his belief in spontaneous generation was fairly ludicrous. The only part of the theory that is credible is the proposition that organisms evolve to better survive in their environment. However, this is proposed in terms of a sideways evolution. Basically, environments make creatures evolve, sidetracking them in their "quest" for perfection.

So after thinking about it for a while, I was left questioning what Lamarck's contribution to science actually was. I guess it could be stated that he helped to start enquiry into evolution, and that the chain he started lead indirectly to the much better work of Darwin and others. But should we really be treating Lamarck as a giant of evolutionary biology?

I'd be really interested to hear what other people think about this! So if anyone else has ever delved into this chapter of history, I'd love to hear from you, agree or disagree.

Friday, April 4, 2008

A Fox in Trilobite's Clothing

It recently occured to me that considering the name of my blog, it has been a while since I actually wrote about trilobites specifically. So today I will rectify that situation, by talking about Moroccan trilobites, and more specifically, fake Moroccan trilobites.

Morocco is well known for it's amazing trilobite specimens, and almost as well known for its fakes. Apparently these began as crude carvings, often anatomically incorrect. However, they quickly advanced, and today are usually resin casts, glued onto a matrix from the correct period. These days, good fakes can be very hard to spot. In fact, the only real proof is sometimes sawing the specimen open, and looking for evidence of the resin layer laid on top of the matrix.

This is a rather unfortunate state of affairs for those looking by buy real Moroccan trilobites, but I don't really see what can be done about it. The only real way to ensure Authenticity is to buy from a reputable fossil-dealer, and/or have the specimen examined by an expert prior to purchase.

Of course, you could always go out on your own and find your own trilobites. That's the best way of all (providing you don't do it in a protected area).

For an excellent resource on trilobite fakery, go check out

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Shedding Light on the Evolution of Marsupials

The discovery of fossil fragments of Djarthia, the earliest known Australian marsupial. and a subsequent study has helped to shed light on the evolutionary history of marsupials, in particular, Dromiciops gliroides (Monito del Monte), a South American species.

Marsupials are generally thought to have originated in South America and spread into Australia via the Antarctic continent, during a period when the three continents were connected. However, Monito del Monte appears to be most directly descended from Djarthia. It would seem that Monito del Monte evolved from a line of Australian marsupials who migrated back to South America. before the supercontinent (Gondwana) broke up around 40 million years ago.

This new study was made possible by the discovery of the new fossil fragments of Djarthia, known only by teeth previously. The ankle and ear bones recovered in Australia allowed for a more complete comparison to be made between Djarthia and Monito del Monte. The study of the fossils was conducted by Mr. Robin Beck.

Get the extended story at ScienceDaily:

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

In Remembrance of Marella

This post is a tribute to Marella Splendens, a Burgess shale species that I think is a little under appreciated. It was abused from the very beginning. Charles Walcott, who first excavated the Burgess shale, dismissed it as an odd trilobite. In fact, although often assumed to be a trilobite by the amateur observer, Marella is currently placed in a class of its own.

Now, you all know that I love trilobites, but I feel sorry for Marella. It's the most common fossil found in the Burgess shale, and yet, do I write the "Marella Blog," or run "Marella Clothing" on cafepress? I think not. Wikipedia gives Marella 400 words, compared to 2800 for trilobites.

Marella is like the girl in your class who you would never have paid attention to, except she looked at little like the totally hot trilobite you had your eye on. But Marella had the better personality, so you would have been better off with her all along.

So, I propose we take a moment out of our busy, trilobite laden, schedules, and appreciate Marella Splendens.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Most Epic of All Dinosaur Battles...

My travels around Youtube have born fruit before, but this really takes the top prize. Above is a scene from the movie "1 Million Years BC." Considering this sequence was made around 30 years before I was born, I'm pretty impressed. The animation is really smooth, and it's just... well... cool!

Popcorn recommended!