Travels with Trilobites by Andy Secher is as in-depth look at the ancient world’s most well-known marine arthropod. Secher is a field associate in paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History and coeditor of the museum’s trilobite website. His private collection comprises more than 4,000 trilobite fossils. He was for many years the editor of the rock-and-roll magazine Hit Parader, a magazine geared for the heavy metal rock and roll audience and earned the ire of Guns N Roses in their song “In the Ring.”
I first met trilobites in college historical geology. They were interesting creatures that lived long ago and were represented very well in the fossil record. What I didn’t know could fill a book, and that’s exactly what Secher has done. Travels with Trilobites is a book that answers many questions as well as filled in many gaps in my knowledge of the species…. well not species but class of animals, trilobita. Ten orders of trilobites are recognized along with literally thousands of species. The trilobite is much more than one simple animal.
Trilobites survived and thrived for more than a half billion years and are extremely well represented in the fossil record because of their exoskeletons. Soft bodies animals are usually preserved as one-dimensional smudges rather than the three-dimensional forms as trilobite fossils. Secher takes the reader around the world to the best trilobite sites as trilobites spread across the world and the world’s various land configurations. Trilobites also managed to occupy several layers of the food chain, from predators, to scavengers, to food for others. They came out of nowhere, expanded, adapted, evolved, and quickly vanished in the Permian extinction.
Secher takes the reader tour, not only of geography, but also the evolution of a marine arthropod which was one of the most successful animals of early earth life. This is a very well written, illistrated, and researched book. It is easy enough for all to understand but also detailed enough for those who already have an interest in trilobites.