Monday, December 15, 2014

A budding paleontologist finds some trilobites, or rather, they find her. By Chakira Walls

Imagine yourself on October 10th; you were probably just relaxing on a nice day right? Well, five Snow College geology students embarked on our geological journey for minerals and fossils near the town of Delta, Utah.  Looking at all of the beautiful minerals like topaz and quartz at Topaz Mountain and the geodes in Dugway Range was remarkable. But, I stayed on the edge of my seat till we could reach the House Range. Paleontology is the field I chose to pursue and gong to the Wheeler Amphitheater was one step headed in the right direction. It is said that paleontologists have a funny way of letting the fossils find them and I was elated that as soon as I stepped out of the car I saw fossils. I looked down and to my surprise I found trilobites. I ended up finding and collecting up to 8 trilobites and even several brachiopods.

During the Cambrian time (570-500 million years ago) most of Utah was covered in water which explains why creatures like trilobites and brachiopods are found so many millions of years later. Trilobites belong to the Phylum Arthropoda, which includes animals with segmented bodies, numerous appendages and exoskeletons. Some examples of arthropods today are, insects, siders, scorpions and centipedes.  Trilobita are an extinct class of arthropods according to Rebecca L. Hylland.

 From what we have been able to collect I'm going to make an educated guess that the species of trilobite that we collected is  Asaphiscus wheeleri. You can find more information about the type of trilobite by reading from  "A collectors guide to Rock, Mineral, Fossil localities of Utah" by James Wilson. According to Hylland, most trilobites were bottom dwellers; some actually can curl up like a modern day pill bug, others burrow into the bottom of the sand and mud using their shovel-shaped cephlons (heads).  They were scavengers and they would ingest the sand and mud, similar to how worms eat.

Works Cited

Hylland, Rebecca. "Trilobites and the Cambrian Environment of Utah - Utah Geological Survey." Trilobites and the Cambrian Environment of Utah - Utah Geological Survey. Services, 3 May 1996. Web. 3 Dec. 2014. <>.

Wilson, James R. 1995.   "A collectors guide to Rock, Mineral, Fossil localities of Utah"  Utah Geological Survey Miscellaneous publication 95-4

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