Teresa Nielsen Hayden pointed me (and the rest of the net) to a page on the nine orders of trilobites. It’s a great page, and leads to some good clicktrance. But it made me think of “We Three Kings of Orient Are”. And once I’d thought of it, of course, I had to write it. (Sleep being, of course, something that happens to Other People)
Trilobites from Cambrian stone
Evolution glorious shown:
On their ancestors unknown.
O fossil record, long preserved
Ancient hist’ry still conserved
Stone from sand made, nine of their clade
Now are classed from forms observed.
Ancient Agnostida you find
Primitive, and many are blind
Head like butt, thus isopygous
(Greek is much less unkind!)
Redlichiida’s thoracic spines
Form distinctive parallel lines
Micropygus, eyes a big plus.
Order that the head defines.
Varied trilobites could conform
To Ptychopariidanic form.
Long surviving, widely thriving
Giving them time to transform.
And from Redlichiida’s form bends:
Glabella clavate, bum a tad great
Pointiest at their back ends.
Many trilobites spread their spines
Few, however managed the lines
Of Lichida, lacy leader:
Order that’s dressed to the nines.
Asaphids, effacéd, could glide
Or perhaps in sediment hide.
Distinctive sutures but no futures
The order still, like others, died.
Lasting till the Permian age
Proetida, ultimate stage.
Small, with spineless tail behind, this
Order turned the final page.
Semi-circle or ovate brimmed
Rostral plate by ages’ change trimmed.
Ptychopariida had Harpetida
But was by an order slimmed.
Spineless trilobites, a surprise!
What that in prehistory lies
Could but see the Phacopida
As they saw with compound eyes.
Worlds change, adapt if you can.
As with trilobites so with man?
Global warming, new plagues forming
May we run as long as they ran.
O fossil record, long preserve
All our hist’ry, and conserve
Stone from sand made, what of our clade
Will be known, and who’ll observe?
The scansion gets a bit ragged on the last lines; I was kinda punchy by the time I finished it. But it was fun; how many times do you get to rhyme “Head like butt, thus” with “isopygous” in one lifetime, after all?