- Phacops rana
- Devonian Age
- Silica Shale
- Paulding, Ohio
- The enrolled specimen measures approx. 1 1/16″ wide (side to side)
Phacops is a genus of trilobites in the order Phacopida, family Phacopidae, that lived in Europe, northwestern Africa, North and South America and China from the Early until the very end of the Devonian, with a broader time range described from the Late Ordovician. It was a rounded animal, with a globose head and large eyes, and probably fed on detritus. Phacops is often found rolled up, a biological defense mechanism that is widespread among smaller trilobites but further perfected in this genus
Trilobites (meaning “three lobes”) are a fossil group of extinct `marine arthropods that form the class Trilobita. Trilobites form one of the earliest known groups of arthropods. The first appearance of trilobites in the fossil record defines the base of the Atdabanian stage of the Early Cambrian period (521 million years ago), and they flourished throughout the lower Paleozoic era before beginning a drawn-out decline to extinction when, during the Devonian, all trilobite orders except the Proetids died out. Trilobites finally disappeared in the mass extinction at the end of the Permian about 250 million years ago. The trilobites were among the most successful of all early animals, roaming the oceans for over 270 million years.
By the time trilobites first appeared in the fossil record, they were already highly diversified and geographically dispersed. Because trilobites had wide diversity and an easily fossilized exoskeleton, an extensive fossil record was left behind, with some 17,000 known species spanning Paleozoic time. The study of these fossils has facilitated important contributions to biostratigraphy, paleontology, evolutionary biology, and plate tectonics. Trilobites are often placed within the arthropod subphylum Schizoramia within the superclass Arachnomorpha (equivalent to the Arachnata), although several alternative taxonomies are found in the literature.
Trilobites had many lifestyles; some moved over the sea bed as predators, scavengers, or filter feeders, and some swam, feeding on plankton.