Distant relatives of modern lobsters, horseshoe crabs, and spiders, trilobites swam the planet's prehistoric seas for 300 million years, from the Lower Cambrian to the end of the Permian eras – and they did so very capably. Trilobite fossils have been unearthed on every continent, with more than 20,000 species identified by science. One of the most arresting animals of our pre-dinosaur world, trilobites are also favourites among the fossil collectors of today, their crystalline eyes often the catalyst for a lifetime of paleontological devotion. And there is no collector more devoted – or more venerated – than Riccardo Levi-Setti.
With The Trilobite Book, a much-anticipated follow-up to his classic Trilobites, Levi-Setti brings us a glorious and revealing guide to these surreal arthropods of ancient Earth. Featuring specimens from Bohemia to Newfoundland, California to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, and Wales to the Anti-Atlas Mountains of Morocco, Levi-Setti's magnificent book reanimates these "butterflies of the seas" in 235 astonishing full-colour photographs. All original, Levi-Setti's images serve as the jumping-off point for tales of his global quests in search of these highly sought-after fossils; for discussions of their mineralogical origins, as revealed by their colour; and for unravelling the role of the now-extinct trilobites in our planetary history.
Sure to enthral palaeontologists with its scientific insights and amateur enthusiasts with its beautiful and informative images, The Trilobite Book combines the best of science, technology, aesthetics, and personal adventure. It will inspire new collectors for eras to come.
1 Introduction: Why Color?
2.3 Western North America
2.4 Eastern Newfoundland
2.5 Great Britain
2.7 Tucson Gem and Mineral Show
Reputable Originals of Moroccan Trilobite Assemblies and Single Specimens
Moroccan Trilobite Reproductions (Fakes)
Trilobites from Other Reputable Worldwide Sources
3 The Eyes of Trilobites
Index to Genera
Riccardo Levi-Setti, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Chicago, has served as director of the Enrico Fermi Institute and as an honorary research associate at the Field Museum, Chicago. Although he is trained as a physicist, trilobites have long been his passion.
"They may have died out 250 million years ago, but trilobites – a group of marine arthropods containing some 20 000 species – have a persistent grip on the human imagination. This coffee-table gem [...] marries the intertwined story of [Levi-Setti's] global hunt for specimens and trilobites' place in prehistory with 235 superb colour photographs of select fossils. Perhaps most astounding is the array found by Arkadiy Evdokimov in Russia: their preservation is exquisite, down to the rococo flourishes of curving spines and protuberant, complex eyes."
– Barbara Kiser, Nature
"A stunning picture of the diversity and fascination of the 'giant woodlice.' [...] Beginning with a basic flanged, flattened, woodlouse-like form, trilobites radiated into burrowers, scurriers, plodders, and swimmers. Astonishingly diverse, by virtue of numbers, species, and impact, they were major players for over 270 million years. The Trilobite Book is a tour-de-force, spanning the Cambrian to the Devonian, and roaming from Newfoundland to Morocco. It's hard to know whether to be more impressed by the diversity of trilobite forms, the quality of fossil preservation, or the skills of those who prepared the specimens [...] The text and photographs, all taken by the author, work beautifully together to build a picture of the intricacy and complexity of trilobites. This is best shown with the eyes, where even the single calcite crystal lenses survived intact. This is the real eye through which trilobites would have seen a world where they did indeed do things differently."
– Adrian Barnett, New Scientist