The trilobites of the genus Ceraurus have always been relatively uncommon. I chose to conduct research on this particular trilobite genus as I feel that the genus has been somewhat overlooked and I believe there is still a lot which we do not know about its members. In this research, I looked at the morphology of specimen from the genus Ceraurus, the paleoecological and environmental indications of these specimens, and their variance between species.
For this research, I compiled a number of scholarly sources on Ceraurus and collected relevant data and measurements from Ceraurus trilobite specimens at The Field Museum in Chicago. From this, I created well-rounded morphological descriptions of the Ceraurus specimens, as well as a paleoecological and environmental description of Ceraurus’ habitats. From analyzing these data, I found that the ratios of cephalon width to genal spine length and the overall frailness/robustness of the exoskeleton in the specimens showed a strong correlation to the paleoenvironment indicated for each relevant Ceraurus specimen. I also found that the ratios and paleoenvironmental indications correlated strongly with differences in Ceraurus species.
The correlation between Ceraurus genus trilobite morphology and difference in species may further correlate with and be the product of the contrasting paleoecologies in which different species of Ceraurus trilobites lived. If causal correlations between paleoecology and morphology can be found in other trilobites and potentially even other arthropods, it may open the door for many new discoveries on how these ancient organisms lived and better our understanding of ancient marine life and the effects ecology has on morphology.
Ryan Shanks, ’16
Des Moines, IA
Sponsor: Kelsey Feser