Palaeontology: 429-million-year-old eye provides a view of trilobite life

August 13, 2020

The internal structure of a 429-million-year-old fossilized trilobite eye is almost identical to that of modern bees, according to a study published in Scientific Reports. The findings suggest that the principles of vision in many insects and crustaceans today are at least half a billion years old.

Brigitte Schoenemann and colleagues used digital microscopy to re-examine a fossilized trilobite Aulacopleura koninckii that was discovered in 1846 near Lod?nice, Czech Republic. The fossil is 1-2 millimetres high,with two protruding semi-oval eyes on the back of its head, one of which has broken off. The authors report a number of internal structures that are similar to those of the compound eyes of many modern insects and crustaceans, including their visual units known as ommatidia (measuring 35 micrometres in diameter) that contain light-detecting cells grouped around a transparent tube called a rhabdom. The authors propose that a dark ring surrounding each individual visual unit is made from pigment cells that acted as barriers between them. Each visual unit is topped with a thick lens and the remains of what the authors suggest is a flat crystalline cone that light passed through before being focused onto the rhabdom.

The small size of its visual units indicates that A. koninckii lived in bright, shallow waters and was probably active during the day, as smaller diameter lenses are efficient at capturing light under bright conditions. The presence of pigment cell barriers between visual units suggests that the trilobite had mosaic vision with each visual unit contributing a small portion of the overall image, similar to the compound eyes of many modern insects and crustaceans.

The findings suggest that the structure and function of many compound eyes has remained mostly unchanged since the Palaeozoic era (542-251 million years ago) and provide insights into the life of an ancient trilobite.
-end-
Article and author details

Insights into a 429-million-year-old compound eye

Corresponding author:

Brigitte Schoenemann
University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
Email: B.Schoenemann@uni-koeln.de

DOI:

10.1038/s41598-020-69219-0

Online paper:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-69219-0

Please link to the article in online versions of your report (the URL will go live after the embargo ends)

Scientific Reports

Related Science Articles from Brightsurf:

75 science societies urge the education department to base Title IX sexual harassment regulations on evidence and science
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today led 75 scientific societies in submitting comments on the US Department of Education's proposed changes to Title IX regulations.

Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, biopharma, and pharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2018 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.

Science in the palm of your hand: How citizen science transforms passive learners
Citizen science projects can engage even children who previously were not interested in science.

Applied science may yield more translational research publications than basic science
While translational research can happen at any stage of the research process, a recent investigation of behavioral and social science research awards granted by the NIH between 2008 and 2014 revealed that applied science yielded a higher volume of translational research publications than basic science, according to a study published May 9, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Xueying Han from the Science and Technology Policy Institute, USA, and colleagues.

Prominent academics, including Salk's Thomas Albright, call for more science in forensic science
Six scientists who recently served on the National Commission on Forensic Science are calling on the scientific community at large to advocate for increased research and financial support of forensic science as well as the introduction of empirical testing requirements to ensure the validity of outcomes.

World Science Forum 2017 Jordan issues Science for Peace Declaration
On behalf of the coordinating organizations responsible for delivering the World Science Forum Jordan, the concluding Science for Peace Declaration issued at the Dead Sea represents a global call for action to science and society to build a future that promises greater equality, security and opportunity for all, and in which science plays an increasingly prominent role as an enabler of fair and sustainable development.

PETA science group promotes animal-free science at society of toxicology conference
The PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. is presenting two posters on animal-free methods for testing inhalation toxicity at the 56th annual Society of Toxicology (SOT) meeting March 12 to 16, 2017, in Baltimore, Maryland.

Citizen Science in the Digital Age: Rhetoric, Science and Public Engagement
James Wynn's timely investigation highlights scientific studies grounded in publicly gathered data and probes the rhetoric these studies employ.

Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, pharma, and biopharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2016 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.

Three natural science professors win TJ Park Science Fellowship
Professor Jung-Min Kee (Department of Chemistry, UNIST), Professor Kyudong Choi (Department of Mathematical Sciences, UNIST), and Professor Kwanpyo Kim (Department of Physics, UNIST) are the recipients of the Cheong-Am (TJ Park) Science Fellowship of the year 2016.

Read More: Science News and Science Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.