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Some trilobites sported dual digestive tracts

CT scans reveal ancient arthropods with forked entrails

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12:18pm, October 31, 2014

VANCOUVER — Some trilobites scurrying across the seafloor around 500 million years ago probably sported two-lane digestive tracks, new research shows.

Michael Rutana of Ohio State University scrutinized eight trilobite fossils (one shown, left), ranging from 1.8 to 10.1 centimeters long from the Cambrian and Ordovician periods. Using a portable CT scanner, Rutana blasted each specimen with X-rays to create a three-dimensional density map of the ancient arthropods. Because a trilobite’s fossilized body is denser than the stomach cavity where it digested prey, Rutana could trace each specimen’s digestive system as a dark line from mouth to anus.

Six of the trilobites had a normal digestive system: one mouth, one bulb-shaped stomach and a single tapering intestine connected to an anus. However, two

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