Trilobite Ontogeny Lab

Samantha Hopkins, University of Oregon
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This lab explores ontogenetic differences in trilobites, requiring students to measure and describe differences in the sizes of different morphological features as trilobites age. Students will also reinforce concepts of allometry, isometry, and morphology of trilobites.

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Undergraduate/graduate course in invertebrate paleontology

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Allometry and isometry, morphological features of Trilobita, ontogeny, phylogeny, and evolution of development

How the activity is situated in the course

This lab exercise is half of a weekly lab exercise; it is combined with a lab section on the Arthropoda in which students are asked to diagram and label representative groups of fossil arthropods.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Allometry vs. isometry, ontogeny

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Model fitting to bivariate data, formulation of hypotheses to explain ontogenetic patterns

Other skills goals for this activity

Data presentation, organization of ideas in addressing a scientific question

Description and Teaching Materials

The attached file is the students' handout, which includes some references for papers with nice figures of trilobite ontogenetic series; there exist many more such papers if these are not available at your library.
Student handout for Trilobite Ontogeny lab (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 52kB Jun9 14)

Teaching Notes and Tips


Students are assessed on the quality of their data presentation, the clarity and plausibility of their answers to the questions, and the explanation of how the data supports their answers.

References and Resources