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Bubble-Headed Mom.

What's the mysterious bubble (see photo) protruding from the head of a fossilized trilobite, an extinct sea animal? Two paleontologists (fossil scientists) think it could be a brood pouch, a sac in which mother trilobites carried their offspring 500 million years ago. "It's the oldest geological example of parental care," says Richard Fortey at the Natural History Museum in London.

Fortey and Nigel Hughes of the University of California at Riverside theorize that trilobite moms badly needed to protect their young. "Trilobites swam among lots of predators that ate small things like trilobite larvae or eggs," Hughes says. "The brood pouches would have helped young trilobites survive."

Fossils preserve hard objects, like shells and bone. But they rarely record spongy larva skin. So it's hard for paleontologists to know if trilobites protected their young after the eggs hatched. Even a trilobite has to grow up!
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Title Annotation:trilobite fossil reveals possible brood pouch
Publication:Science World
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Mar 8, 1999
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