The Arthropod Review

How the review works

The aim of the review is to establish material that is of scientific merit and specimens which are good aesthetic representatives, possessing public potential for display and community events. These two criteria do not necessarily go hand in hand; as a specimen may have a fantastic scientific research potential, but may not be visually impressive. Therefore the specimens are graded against two separate criteria: Scientific Merit (as a numerical value of stars) and Public Engagement (as a Gold, Silver or Bronze status).

For a more in depth look into the review criteria, click on the “Review Criteria” tab in the tool bar above.


The Trilobite review

Joe instore

Joe investigating a trilobite tray


The Arthropod collection consists of 14 trays made up of 9 Trilobites and 5 other Arthropoda (fossil Crustaceans, Insects and a Sea Scorpion cast). It was decided that the amount of material would suit the review being conducted as a detailed, systematic, tray by tray investigation, rather than an initial overview of the entire collection, followed by an in depth look at a compiled shortlist.


Day One.



Dr Joseph Botting led the review, which resulted in some specimens making an impact at the outset. The collection contains some important SSSI material from the Burgess Shale and Wenlock limestone     (2 Gold stars – Leedm.B.TN5840).




The scientific highlights are the historically important Bohemian specimens, donated to the museum in 1876 by Dr Antonin Frič, the director of the National Museum Prague. One of these specimens, Miraspis mira      (2 Silver stars – Leedm.B.1876.5.2) is quite rare, with distinct spines on the pygidium. The function of these spines is uncertain; but Joe suggested they are likely to be a camouflage feature rather than a defensive structure.




As the review progressed it became apparent that some material has wonderful potential for public engagement. Notably a common specimen Encrinurus punctatus  (0 Silver stars – Leedm.B.TN4896), exhibiting interesting lumps on the glabella, which maybe a function of camouflage.


Unfortunately much of this material has little scientific merit, with two wonderful but very common Dalmanites myops specimens (0 Silver stars – Leedm.B.TN4907) and (0 Gold stars – Leedm.B.TN4899); both are fine examples of schizochroal – compound eyes structures.  






Some rarer and slightly trickier to find material was discovered in the form of Peronopsis interstricta (2 Gold stars – Leedm.B.TN2015), a planktonic filter feeder from Utah.



joe hand lens

Joe with his trusty hand lens.











Day Two.

The review resumed and revealed some surprising discoveries, notably a Calymene blumenbachi specimen with damaged ribs       (2 Gold stars – Leedm.B.TN5586).




On closer inspection it was interpreted as predatory damage from a Sea Scorpion’s pincer. The specimen is the actual trilobite and not a moult, which therefore implies that the trilobite must have survived the initial attack but died within one moult cycle.

Two other Silurian specimens of note are a wonderful example of a Bumastus barriensis (1 Bronze star – Leedm.B.2010.72) an infaunal ambush predator, and another lovely example of Calymene blumenbachi (1 Silver star – Leedm.B.TN5836) exhibiting granular ornamentation on the cephalon.















The review covered 204 trilobite specimens, establishing the following summary.


Gold = A truly amazing specimen; Silver = A very good specimen that has great potential; Bronze = A good specimen which can demonstrate a particular feature; Clear = A specimen that has limited visual impact.

Joe research

Joe referencing a tricky specimen.

3 stars = High scientific importance.

2 stars = Moderate scientific importance.

1 star = Fair scientific importance.

0 stars = No or limited scientific importance.


With the Trilobite review completed, Joe kindly suggested to review the remaining arthropods; with some wonderful results that would have gone undiscovered.



Review of additional Arthropod material

The highlights of this additional review include a wonderful horseshoe crab Mesolimulus walchi (2 Gold stars – Leedm.B.2010.186) from the Solnhofen limestone.







An additional specimen of Bellinurus trilobitoides (1 Silver star – Leedm.B.2003.01.01) found locally in Leeds.






Similar to the trilobites, the bulk of the collection is of a limited scientific merit, but contains some wonderful material for public engagement, notably a Hoploparia sp.  (1 Silver star – Leedm.B.TN4865).


In addition, a wonderful beetle specimen, Cybister explanatus from the La Brea Tar Pits. And last but not least, an interesting and scientifically important bedding plane of crustaceans; exhibiting exceptional soft body preservation from a potential and undescribed Silurian lagerstätten in the UK, both not photographed here.


The additional review of arthropod material covered 85 specimens, establishing the following summary.



Summary of the Trilobite collection.

The collection contains wide ranging material with a lot of fine specimens, but unfortunately lack scientific importance. The collection has not been acquired systematically with donors providing unusual material, with no focus on trilobite sourcing. There is a number of research grade Carboniferous material, featuring a wide range of named species from Malham Tarn and Doncaster.



Strong representations of the following groups:

Phacopida group – illustrating eye morphology, life habits and enrolment.

Asaphida group – exhibiting microevolution with species level taxonomy of Trinuclid evolution.

Proetida group – as a conservative group.

Specimens occur as moults and/or complete specimens with compressional and three-dimensional preservation.

The Bohemian material extends the fauna of the collection and adds an impressive element, making these the highlight of the collection along with other non UK specimens from France, Morocco and Utah.



There are limited specimens from the Lichida, Agnostida and Harpetida groups and no examples from the Eodiscida and Raphophoridae groups.

The Proetida are local Carboniferous, and there are very few specimens from the Scottish side of the Iapetus.


Finally, I would like to thank Joe for this review and all he’s done. It was great fun and a wonderful two days.

The Arthropods, along with all the other collections are open and free for anyone to view by appointment, just call Leeds Discovery Centre on 0113 378 2100 or email


Posted on December 2, 2014, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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