Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, in Bloomsburg (United States), have looked into the question of an animal that has now disappeared: the Walliserops trifurcatuskind of trilobite appeared 400 million years ago. Scientists became interested in the trident which “emerges from his head, evoking the attribute of the Greek god Poseidon“explains the New York Timesrelayed by International mail on Tuesday, January 17, 2023. According to them, this trident served them during the breeding season: “with a length of about 7 centimeters, [il] served as a weapon during jousts between males”.
Sexual methods of struggle
With the American daily, Alan Gishlick, paleontologist at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of the study, specified: “When you see something like the fork of the Walliseropswe think of sexual selection because it is really out of the ordinary”. However, these are not exceptional methods, as the researcher explains: “These methods of sexual struggle go back as far as the appearance of reproduction in complex organisms”.
Two hypotheses ruled out
Until this last study, it was commonly accepted that this trident was used as a means of defense or to find food. These two hypotheses are now swept away by Richard Fortey, researcher at the Natural History Museum in London: “The long trident is not mobile enough to provide effective defense, and it is too long and at too odd an angle for foraging”.