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Article: Ancient animal migration: a case study of eyeless, dimorphic Devonian trilobites from Poland

Palaeontology Cover Image - Volume 59 Part 5
Publication: Palaeontology
Volume: 59
Part: 5
Publication Date: September 2016
Page(s): 743 751
Author(s): Błażej Błażejowski, Carlton E. Brett, Adrian Kin, Andrzej Radwański, and Michał Gruszczyński
Addition Information

How to Cite

BłAżEJOWSKI, B., BRETT, C.E., KIN, A., RADWAńSKI, A., GRUSZCZYńSKI, M. 2016. Ancient animal migration: a case study of eyeless, dimorphic Devonian trilobites from Poland. Palaeontology, 59, 5, 743-751. DOI: 10.1111/pala.12252

Author Information

  • Błażej Błażejowski - Polish Academy of Sciences Institute of Palaeobiology Warszawa Poland (Email:
  • Carlton E. Brett - University of Cincinnati Department of Geology Cincinnati OH USA (Email:
  • Adrian Kin - ‘Phacops’ – Association of Friends of Geosciences Warszawa Poland
  • Andrzej Radwański - University of Warsaw Institute of Geology Warszawa Poland
  • Michał Gruszczyński - ‘Phacops’ – Association of Friends of Geosciences Warszawa Poland

Publication History

  • Manuscript Accepted: 08 July 2016
  • Manuscript Received: 15 February 2016

Online Version Hosted By

Wiley Online Library
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We report evidence of one of the oldest known animal migratory episodes in the form of queues of the eyeless trilobite Trimerocephalus chopini Kin & Błażejowski, from the Late Devonian (Famennian) of central Poland. In addition, there is evidence for two morphs in this population, one with nine segments and the other with ten. We infer that these queues represent mass migratory chains coordinated by chemotaxis, comparable to those observed in modern crustaceans such as spiny lobsters, and further suggest that the two forms, which occur in an approximately 1:1 ratio, may be dimorphs. These ancient arthropods may have migrated periodically to shallow marine areas for mass mating and spawning. The sudden death of the trilobites in the queues may have been caused by excess carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide introduced into the bottom water by distal storm disturbance of anoxic sediments. This study demonstrates the potential for further research on the evolution and ecology of aggregative behaviour in marine arthropods.

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