Fusion: Deakin Exhibits Online

The trilobites of Victoria

Amongst the 400 papers he published in his lifetime Gill wrote more than seventy for The Victorian Field Naturalist, the journal of The Field Naturalists’ Club of Victoria, and this included his first ever published article titled “Yeringian Trilobites” in February 1938.  This paper provides a general background and discussion of trilobites, and examines in particular the ocular development of specimens found in the Lilydale area of Victoria.2

Trilobites are a now extinct class of Anthropoda and are one of the most characteristic fossils of the Palaeozoic era.  They were marine creatures, first appearing approximately 521 million years ago and becoming extinct at the end of the Permian, about 250 million years ago.  Trilobites tend to be well preserved in the fossil record (owing to their exoskeleton of chitin) and this, along with their world-wide range, makes them of great stratigraphical value.  The first entire specimen was described in 1698 by Edward Lhwyd.3

In Australia trilobites went virtually unreported until the mid-19th century when Strzelecki first noted their occurrence in 1845.  Frederick McCoy described the first trilobite from Australia in 1847, the Brachymetopus strzeleckii.4

Gill published other papers on trilobites, and whilst they comprise only a small fraction of his total output, he is noted as being virtually the only researcher for forty years to continue the study of Victorian Silurian and Devonian trilobites that began with McCoy and has continued to the present.5