First-of-its-kind fossil of ancient marine creature reveals last meal as scientists use 3D tech to ‘spill its guts’

A 3D scan of a rare trilobite fossil has revealed what the prehistoric sea creature had in its stomach when it died.

The first fossil of its kind has provided insights into the world of the ancient ocean.

The small creatures searched for food on the seabed


The small creatures searched for food on the seabedImage credit: iStock – Getty
The 3D scan shows the creature's petrified stomach


The 3D scan shows the creature’s petrified stomachPhoto credit: Petr Kraft et al/Nature 2023

The scan revealed that the trilobite ate everything it could find on the seafloor.

These included shells, sea urchin-like creatures and other small marine animals found on the seabed.

A study explaining the results was published in the journal Nature.

“Trilobites are among the best-known fossils and formed an important component of marine ecosystems throughout most of their 270 million-year history from the early Cambrian to the end of the Permian,” the researchers wrote.

“The inferred trophic roles range from detritive feeders to predators, but all are based on indirect evidence such as body and gut morphology, modes of preservation, and attributed dietary traces; no trilobite specimen with internal intestinal contents has been described.”

They go on to explain how they are the first to fully dissect the intestinal contents of a species of trilobite known as Bohemolichas incola.

This was a rare species and lived about 465 million years ago.

It is believed that there were once 20,000 species of trilobites.

They played a prominent role in the ocean but are now all extinct.

The size of the small animals ranged from around 3 cm to 60 cm.

Scientists believe the trilobite in the study stuffed itself with food before it died.

Lumps in his tubular intestines suggest he was constantly eating food.

It is believed that scavengers had also attacked the trilobite before it died.

The researchers wrote: “Scavengers that burrowed into the trilobite carcass targeted soft tissues beneath the glabella but avoided the gut, suggesting deleterious conditions and possible ongoing enzymatic activity.”


TaraSubramaniam is a Dailynationtoday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. TaraSubramaniam joined Dailynationtoday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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