Often thought of as being the woodlice of the Palaeozoic, Trilobites were one of the most successful organisms ever to have lived. With a range stretching from the Cambrian through to the very end of the Permian, these remarkable creatures lasted over 300 million years. The success of trilobites could be argued to be due to their sheer adaptability. Throughout their evolutionary history, trilobites occupied a wide variety of ecological niches. These ranged from tiny, free-swimming filter feeders to gigantic bottom dwelling predators.
Perhaps the most spectacular of these ancient creatures were the Order Lichida. These trilobites had remarkably spiny bodies, often extending well beyond their thorax. Such is the exotic appearance of these fossils that a roaring trade has sprung up in many parts of the world. Morocco is one of the leading countries in this field, the rocks of the desert yielding vast quantities of the fossils. Once excavated, the trilobites are carefully picked clean of the surrounding matrix, giving the illusion that the animal is still living.
The one thing that united all of these disparate forms was their distinctive central and lateral lobes. Indeed, it was the recognition of these that led 19th Century naturalist, Johann Walch, to suggest the formal name “Trilobite”. Though only officially named in the 19th century, the earliest definite account of a Trilobite can be dated to Rev. Edward Lhwyd’s etching of Ogygiocarella debuchii. This early description can be dated to 1698. Though this was the first known scientific description of a trilobite, there are written descriptions dating back as far as the 3rd Century BC that could be attributed to these ancient organisms.
Give yourself a present: listen to this wonderful playlist of vintage North African Jewish music for Hanukkah and stop singing that Ocho Kandelikos song FOR THE LOVE OF G!D. Courtesy of the phenomenal Chris Silver at Jewish Morocco (check out his facebook page and blog).
The infamous scene where Marlene Dietrich kisses another woman - which was added to the script at Dietrich’s suggestion - was saved from being cut by the censors by Dietrich herself. She came up with the idea of taking a flower from the woman before kissing her and then giving the flower to Gary Cooper, explaining that if the censors cut the kiss the appearance of the flower would make no sense.
This was not the only thing that was controversial at the time of release (1930). She also wore a tuxedo designed for a man in this scene.