Hypostoma of agnostid trilobites



The hypostoma, which is a ventral sclerite that covers the oral region, has recently been discovered in four species of agnostid trilobites. The discovery is significant because the suborder Agnostina is the only major trilobite taxon for which the hypostoma has not been described. The agnostid hypostoma is distinctly different in shape from that of non-agnostid trilobites. Minus its wings, it is widest posteriorly, lacks border furrows, has unusually long wings, and in some species is fenestrate. It is unattached to other sclerites, and presumably was held in place beneath the anterior part of the glabella by muscle tissue. Hypostomal differences probably indicate basic differences in food or feeding habits of agnostid and non-agnostid trilobites. This, along with other evidence, suggests a major divergence in mode of life of these two trilobite groups, and should be given strong consideration in future attempts at trilobite classification.