Trident Nosed Walliserops Trilobite

This is possibly the weirdest, and most visually stunning species of trilobite, Walliserops trifurcatus. Unlike many on the market the trident and all of the free standing spines are real. They were painstakingly prepped out of the solid limestone using air abrasives under microscope. This piece likely took 40-50 hours of manual labor to prepare.

There is very minimal restoration on this specimen. A few hairline cracks through the trident where it was broken during collection and a couple of touchups of minor surface scratches and dings on the head from preparation. Really a beautiful trilobite, just check out the amazingly detailed eyes.

The green base you see if the bottom of the shipping container. It is physically bolted into the bottom of a plastic container for shipping. That way there is nothing but air touching the spines. The bolts just need to be unscrewed to remove it.

Walliserops is a fascinating ancient arthropod that scoured the bottom of a shallow sea floor. It is placed in a genus of spiny, phacopid (acastid) trilobites and it is found in Lower to Middle Devonian (441-358 mya) rocks from Morocco. All species of Walliserops share the spectacular three-pronged "trident" that rises from the glabella. They also have horns over their eyes and intimidating spines along the back.

Walliserops was highly specialized to deal with an oceanic wonderland in the diverse and dangerous Age of Fish. Specialization is a key difference from the more primitive “bugs” that emerged in the Cambrian.

Walliserops displays an unusual departure from bilateral symmetry . An example is the curved occipital spine of W. hammii which takes a noticeable curl to one side. The regular development of these features in multiple specimens suggests a genetically controlled feature of the genus and not mutations or pathology. Some exceptions to bilateral symmetry can be explained by adaptations which allowed the trident to be held off the sea floor while walking.

The function of the trident is an intriguing mystery. Many believe it was used to stir the ocean floor to better scavenge for food. Such a large adornment would have required significant energy and nutrient investment. Although a number of suggestions have been made (e.g. sensory apparatus, disguise or protection), many experts support an idea that the trident served as "horns" similar to present day beetles.

Morroco is an exciting place for discovering new and diverse species that lived in an ancient ocean that covered the northern reaches of the Sahara Desert. All three currently described species come from the same strata near Foum Zguid in southern Morocco, though other locations have yielded new trilobites to study. This region is hailed as one of the great fossil treasure troves in the world.
Walliserops trifurcatus and Phacops
Foum Zguid Morocco
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