Trilobite processions found, according to CNRS Press Release, National Geographic Science (AAAS) News, National Geographic 17 October 2019, and Scientific Reports 17 October 2019 doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-51012-3.

Scientists from the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) along with other French and Swiss colleagues have studied fossils containing multiple specimens of trilobites named Ampyx priscus dated as 480 million years old. These are eyeless trilobites with three long spines projecting from their bodies – one at the front and two at the rear. The trilobites are arranged in “linear clusters”, i.e. lines of individuals arranged head to tail, all facing the same way, apparently in contact with another with their spines.

Line of trilobites were assumed to have been formed when trilobites “were swept into lines by strong currents, or maybe several of them made their way into burrows one after another and then perished.” However, the CNRS researchers claim such currents would throw them in random directions, rather than all facing the same way. They also did not find evidence of burrows. Instead they suggest the trilobites were buried whilst in a collective migration like those seen in living sea creatures such as spiny lobsters moving to mating grounds or in response to environmental disturbances.

In order to form an orderly line the creatures has to find one another and get organised using touch and chemical signals, which according to Science News, is “a sophisticated behaviour for such primitive creatures”. Evolutionary scientists claim these fossil processions indicate when coordinated collective behaviour between animals first evolved. Jean Vannier, a palaeontologist at the University of Lyon, who led to study, commented to National Geographic: “It shows that collective behaviour is not a new evolutionary innovation that appeared a couple of million years ago. Instead, it is much older, dating back to the first biodiversification events of animal life.”

The CNRS Press release summarised: “This example would seem to suggest that group behaviour is of ancient origin and, from an early date, likely conferred an evolutionary advantage on the first animals, allowing them to survive environmental stress and improve their reproductive chances.”

CNRS, National Geographic, Science

Editorial Comment: We have specimens of these spectacular “follow the leader fossils” in our Creation Research Collection, so we can agree with many claims in this research. Such fossil specimens containing multiple animals show the trilobites also had inbuilt group behaviour. A huge advantage for any living things.

However, ‘advantage’ does not explain how animals acquired such behaviour. Animals only survive environmental stresses if they already prepossess the structures and functions required to do so. Being exposed to stress will neither produce body structures nor the functions needed to communicate with one another or work together. Survival of the fittest never explains the origin of anything. It didn’t in Darwin’s time, and it still does not!

The fact these trilobites are preserved in such organised alignment also means these trilobite processions were buried quickly and deeply by a mass of sediment in order to be preserved, and are therefore evidence of rapid flood burial.

Photos of trilobites from Vannier, J., Vidal, M., Marchant, R. et al. Collective behaviour in 480-million-year-old trilobite arthropods from Morocco. Sci Rep 9, 14941 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41598-019-51012-3. Creative Commons Licence CC BY 4.0

Evidence News vol. 19, No. 18
27 November 2019
Creation Research Australia