Spiral Trilobite Design

Ampyx priscus is a strange little Ordovician trilobite. In Morocco, you find them in clusters of dozens of individuals - but often, these are less circles and more... lines. Scientists think this means that these trilobites may have migrated, similar to how living lobsters to today. By moving in groups, they made sure they made it to their end destination, and also helped to avoid being eaten.

Ampyx priscus from Vannier et al 2019 Scientific Reports

Some nice lines of trilobites frozen in time in Morocco. Image from Vannier et al 2019 Scientific Reports.

But there's an interesting twist to this story. Ampyx trilobites were blind! So how did they know where to go?

Well, there were probably some pheromones and chemical cues. But the other big clue is the fact that they have these very, very large spines - which they could have used to keep in contact with the trilobite ahead of them. So functionally, they held hands and walked single file. So cute!

Mine aren't walking a single line, but instead are spiraling forever in time. Mostly because that's a more convenient T-shirt design, but also, romantic?



  • Vannier, Jean, et al. "Collective behaviour in 480-million-year-old trilobite arthropods from Morocco." Scientific reports 9.1 (2019): 1-10.

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