We finally know how trilobites mated, thanks to new fossils

We finally know how trilobites mated, thanks to new fossils

An illustration of two trilobites (Olenoides serratus) mating on the seafloor during the Cambrian period, with the male (top) hugging the female below.  (Image credit: Holly Sullivan, https://www.sulscientific.com/)

Trilobites may not look like cuddly creatures, but come mating time, one species of these now-extinct arthropods — which looked like giant, swimming potato bugs wearing Darth Vader helmets — would come together for a little hug, a new study finds.

A scientist made this discovery after coming across an extraordinary fossil of Olenoides serratus, a trilobite species that lived about 508 million years ago during the Cambrian period. This well-preserved fossil revealed a pair of short appendages on the underside of its midsection, which were likely used as claspers, the researchers said. A female O. serratus probably stationed herself on the seafloor, and then a male would mount her from above, using the claspers to hold onto her body — a maneuver that would put him in the best possible mating position. 

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