Phred

 

Phred

This is Phred. Phred is my pet Phacopidae trilobite. Phred is not the oldest trilobite out there, he is only some 360 million years old. So he probably existed during the Carboniferous period. He has been dead longer than the human species have existed, he has been chilling out before dinosaurs became an item.

Phacopidae family of trilobites contains dozens of genera and Phred belongs to the Geesops genus. Thousands of different kinds of trilobites have been discovered in the past three centuries. There were ones with spikes, with protruding eyes, huge ones, tiny ones, ones that lived in symbiosis with oxygen-producing bacteria. Phred isn’t particularly special.

Phred is about the size of a matchbox. If you take a closer look, you can see that you can divide him into three parts. That is true for all trilobites. The bottom part - Pygidium is the tail, it looks similar to Phred’s head and is quite small, underdeveloped. The middle part is his Thorax, it consisted of dozens of plates, which made Phred quite flexible (unlike, say, a turtle with its monolithic shell). The front - the Cephalon was his head, you can see a pair of eyes slightly sticking out.

Trilobites like Phred are fascinating not just because they are a monument to evolution with the enormous amount of species variation, but also because they had eyes. Beautiful, complex eyes with lenses made out of calcite crystals. ​ Phred doesn’t do much. He mostly sits on a shelf in my living room and reminds me every once in a while of how minute life is and how utterly unimportant things that make us worry really are. I look into Phred’s eyes 360,000,000 years after he died and get utterly fascinated with the fact that him and me - we are both made by the same processes, we both share the same planet and I have the opportunity to reach out and touch the past that is long gone. And Phred can look at me with his dead unseeing crystal eyes, shrug his thoracic segments and we can both ponder if, maybe, another 360 million years from now I will be the one standing on a shelf in a living room.