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The morphology and function of the exite (the pre-epipodite of Stormer) of the trilobite appendage is discussed. After a review of past work, the morphology is found to be considerably less uniform than previously thought. By an analysis of the morphological variation and by analogy with conditions in recent arthropods, function is thought to have been concerned with different activities such as filtering, swimming, or gill ventilation. Gills may have been present on the ventral side of the body, lateral to the appendages.