Research: trilobite eye, 429 million years old, was the same as that of a bee

For the first time, paleontologists studied the structure of the eyes of trilobites and compared them with the structure of the organs of vision of modern invertebrates. It turned out that their eyes are almost identical to those of modern bees.

A new study has shown that the internal structure of a fossilized eye of a trilobite, 429 million years old, is almost identical to the structure of the eyes of modern bees. The scientific text was published in the journal Scientific Reports, the obtained data indicate that the principles of vision in many insects and crustaceans have been preserved for at least half a billion years.

Scientists have used digital microscopy to re-examine the fossilized trilobite Aulacopleura koninckii. The fossil is 1–2 mm high, with two semi-oval eyes protruding at the back of the head, one of which has broken off. The authors report several internal structures that are similar to the compound eyes of many modern insects and crustaceans, including their visual units known as ommatidia.

Trilobites are marine arthropods that appeared on Earth in the early Cambrian period, about 521 million years ago. Paleontological findings indicate that trilobites had compound eyes. They helped predatory trilobites hunt blindworms.

The data obtained suggest that the structure and functions of many insect eyes have remained unchanged since the Paleozoic (542-251 million years ago). These data will make it possible to study in more detail the structure of the organisms of the ancient trilobite.

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