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Welcome ...

... to the fascinating world of trilobites !

We appreciate your visit! But, first of all, we would like to draw your attention to a figure which you should keep in mind for the immediate future, provided the talented actors of this web site will succeed in grabbing your interest. You should keep it in mind, because it is all designed to ask your respect - respect well deserved by our little bugs. And the figure is 300,000,000.

Kayserops tamnrhertaIn words: three hundred million - a figure describing a remote period in the history of the Earth, an amount of years, eternally far from the human mind's imagination and capacity to comprehend - considerung that the human genus can only look back on a mere 2.4 million years of existence. Three hundred million years - covering an age in which trilobites roamed across the (submerged) face of the Earth. Three hundred million years - which have left their traces in a countless number of fossils embedded in the sedimentary rocks of this planet, giving notice of the rise and fall of one of the most successful life forms ever.

From the early Cambrian, some 540 million years ago, to the end of the Permian, some 250 million years before our time, these now extinct arthropods inhabited the ancient seas and their empire may have included not only the shallow, light-flooded shore waters but also the dark abysses of the continental shelves. Consisting of currently more than 15,000 described species, trilobites did reach an unmatched biological diversity and every year yet unknown species are discovered and described.

Notice

You may notice that the above period covers just 290 million years, not the 300 we boasted about. Granted, but we have to make clear that in view of the gigantic time spans we have to deal with in palaeontology, ten million years are not really that big a deal! If you decide to continue your journey on this web site you will be asked to throw your average ideas of time overboard and think in different dimensions, although this could be somewhat difficult in the beginning. For if you try to compare the length of existence of humans and trilobites to each other, the relation is pretty much the same as the expected lifespan of a mayfly to that of the giant turtle of the Galapagos archipelago.

When, more or less by accident (tired of the boaring TV and reviving the virtue of reading books), I stumbled across Richard Fortey's work "Life - An Unauthorised Biography" in September of 2003, my attention was inevitably drawn to these long gone creatures. At that time I did not know that Richard was one of the "big shots" in trilobite research and that I read the wrong book. When I tried to get more information I noticed - to my surprise - that there was hardly a web site in German which dealt with this subject. As a matter of fact you could count them by the fingers of a single hand (it has changed somewhat since then). The search for contemporary literature in German was equally disappointing in its results and the fact that the web address which is now used for this project was still available gave evidence of the very restricted availability of information regarding this subject in the German-reading part of the web.

Drotops sp.Reedops cephalotesI therefore decided rather quickly - even though I was really but a novice myself - to start and develop this web site on trilobites and by doing so enlarge and improve my knowledge on the subject in the course of its continuous growth. It was not only set to show a few images of trilobites and some lines of text. Instead, I planned to cover almost all aspects regarding these astonishing creatures and in doing so try and use a language that could be understood by everyone, not only by the experts. Whether I succeeded in my quest, I will have to leave to our visitors to judge upon, and I would like to ask everyone not to refrain from sending me constructive criticism.

So, together, let us discover these fascinating creatures of the Palaeozoic in their enormous diversity. Join us in a trip to that very, very remote past. At a time when dinosaurs were yet unheard of (I don't recall trilobites having ears, anyway <g>); at a time when life on land was as scarce as to suggest it did not exist at all; at a time when - as Riccardo Levi-Seti wrote in the foreword to his magnificent book "Trilobites" - the silence was only broken by the roaring of the wind, the breaking of the waves and the thunder of storms and erupting volcanoes - the ancient seas were teeming with early life forms. They stood as the empire of the - perhaps shiny-armored - multi-legged knights of the class Trilobita.

Notice: We have tried to create this web site as user-friendly as possible and to make it easily readable with all current and past internet browsers and resolutions, starting from 1024 x 768 pixels upwards (Lower resolutions may result in unwanted shiftings and cross-overs of paragraphs and images). However we did not test resolutions larger than 1600 x 1200 pixels in all their variants. In case you use a very high resolution and encounter errors in displaying this web site correctly, please bear with us and temporarily reduce your resolution to a maximum of 1600 x 1200 pixels. Thank you!

© images of Reedops and Drotops courtesy of PaleoDirect, exclusive commercial provider of trilobite images in support of this web site

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of this web site since Oct.18, 2003 and we will reward your interest with a coconut! The coconut will be sent to you by snail mail immediately.
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* lost and stolen coconuts will not be compensated for!

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Senckenberg
Senckenberg Society for Nature Research
Frankfurt (Main), Germany

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