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Department of Paleobiology

Olenoides serratus (a trilobite)


Olenoides serves a fair example of the basic trilobite form - a cephalon (the head shield), a segmented thorax with seven jointed parts, and a semicircular pygium (after-end or rump.) The long, curved antennae were well preserved in the Burgess Shale. The middle legs, near their base, bore a series of spines that could be used to grasp the soft-bodied animals it preyed on and then to move them forward toward the mouth. The thin limbs tell us that this was not a swimmer. Instead, it was an active predator and scavenger moving about the muddy seafloor. The fossilized tracks it left in bottom sediment shows that it crawled along the bottom and dug in after its food. The soft parts of the Burgess Shale Olenoides fossils were particularly well preserved, showing limbs, gut traces, and other soft tissues, and making it one of the most completely well known of all trilobites. Fossil sizes range up to four inches.

  • Olenoides (ventral view)

Olenoides serratus (OH-len-OY-deez sair-AH-tuss). After (G.) Olenus, husband of Lethaea, for whose pride both were turned into stone + serratus = (L.) saw-shaped.

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