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16 March 2023 Reassessing growth and mortality estimates for the Ordovician trilobite Triarthrus eatoni
Daniel Pauly, James D. Holmes
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A length–frequency sample (n = 295) from a fossil population of the Ordovician trilobite Triarthrus eatoni Hall, 1838, assembled and analyzed by J. L. Cisne in 1973 is here reexamined using methods of length–frequency analysis commonly used in fishery science and marine biology. Theoretical considerations and the empirical data at hand suggest that the growth of T. eatoni was not “linear,” but asymptotic, as is the growth of most Recent marine invertebrates. The parameters of the von Bertalanffy growth function (L = 41 mm, K = 0.29 yr–1) suggest that T. eatoni, which apparently lived in a challenging environment, grew somewhat more slowly than the extant marine isopod Ceratoserolis trilobitoides (Eights, 1833), used here as Recent analogue to T. eatoni. This trilobite probably lived up to 10 years, rather than the suggested 4 years, and its mortality rate was 15%–20% per year rather than 30%–40% per year. These represent the first estimates of trilobite absolute growth characteristics using methods known to accurately model growth in extant water-breathing ectotherms. These provide a baseline for trilobite growth that can be used to make inferences about growth in other species. The approach used here may also be applied to other trilobites for which suitable length–frequency data exist.

Daniel Pauly and James D. Holmes "Reassessing growth and mortality estimates for the Ordovician trilobite Triarthrus eatoni," Paleobiology 49(1), 120-130, (16 March 2023).
Accepted: 7 June 2022; Published: 16 March 2023
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