Join the Queue

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1749
(CNRS / ENS de Lyon / Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1)

Health Editor’s Note: We can spend a great deal of time waiting in line. Apparently this has been going on for a very long time…..Carol

Trilobite Fossil Shows Animals Have Stood in Line for Hundreds of Millions of Years

By Jason Daley/Smithsonian.com

Waiting in line may feel like one of the more primitive aspects of modern life; think of all those people lined up for the latest iPhoneconcert tickets or a trendy pastry. But following the leader is actually a pretty complex bit of collective social behavior that may have ancient origins, according to a new study of 480-million-year old fossilized trilobites.

Found in Morocco, the fossil depicts “conga line” of 22 small, spiny, blind trilobites of the species Ampyx priscus. Becky Ferreira at the New York Times reports that it is one of the earliest pieces of evidence for group behavior ever discovered. The study appears in the journal Scientific Reports.

Around 541 million years ago during a period called the Cambrian Explosion, lots of new animal species appeared in the world’s oceans, sporting evolutionary upgrades like skeletons and nervous systems. Prior to this period, there’s no evidence of group behavior in animals because Precambrian life lacked nervous systems, as the study’s first author Jean Vannier, a researcher at the University of Lyon, tells Ferreira.

During another biodiversity bloom called the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event about 100 million years later, Ampyx priscus entered the scene.

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