World’s oldest known case of cannibalism revealed in trilobite fossils

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. But before there were dogs — or even dinosaur — there were trilobites brutally biting each other on the Cambrian seafloor. New research has revealed that these armored predators didn’t only hunt smaller and weaker animals for food, but would occasionally take bites out of their trilobite comrades of the same species. This finding represents the earliest evidence of cannibalism in the fossil record to date.

Trilobites are now-extinct marine arthropods that first appeared in the fossil record around 541 million years ago. They were stout creatures with thick exoskeletons, which is likely one of the reasons so many trilobite fossils remained preserved all these years; exoskeletons fossilize much easier than softer tissues.

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