Fossil Fact File/The Dudley Bug

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West Midlands Geodiversity Partnership


'The Dudley Bug’

What is it?


The Dudley Bug is actually the fossilized outer shell of an extinct creature similar to (but not quite the same as) modern day horseshoe crabs. Both the trilobite and the horseshoe crab belong to a group of animals called Arthropods (Arthro meaning jointed and pod or podium meaning leg, i.e. jointed-legged animals). They had many legs, a hard head shield ( called the Cephalon) made of lime (calcium carbonate, CaCo3) with two small eyes and antennae, a flexible back that allowed them to curl up into a ball, and a hard tail shield (called the pygidium).

How and where did it live?

It lived in warm shallow tropical coral seas that once, millions of years ago, covered the area where Dudley now is and also the area for many miles around. The Dudley bug probably crawled on the seabed and over the reef scavenging for scraps of food in the shell sand and limey mud.

When did it live?

It lived in a time that scientists call the Silurian Period (which is named after a tribes of ancient Britons called the Siluries who lived across Shropshire and into Wales). In Dudley, it is found in beds of rock called the Much Wenlock Limestone Formation. These are between 416 and 423 million years old.

Where can I Find One?

These fossils can now sometimes be found in the Limestones of Dudley, West Midlands where the old mines and quarries have left behind rock exposures at the surface. Please note; Collecting from fallen blocks is permitted on most of these sites but hammering the rock faces is forbidden.

Did you Know?

Facts at a glance
Common Name:Trilobite
Species Name:Calymene blumenbachii
Period:L. Palaeozoic, Silurian
Age:416 to 423 million Years

The Dudley bug is probably the most famous trilobite in the world because so many beautiful examples were found when the limestone mines were working in the 18th ,19th and 20th centuries that scientists from all over the world came to collect or purchase them from Dudley and they can be found in museums all over the world. They were also adopted as the emblem of the limestone miners and a Dudley bug sits at the very centre of the towns original coat of arms.

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