Trilobites (三葉虫 are a class of extinct prehistoric marine arthropod closely related to san'yōchū)chelicerates (the class of arthropods that includes arachnids and horseshoe crabs) that lived in the Paleozoic Era from the Early Cambrian Period until the end of the Permian Period. Trilobites are among the most famous fossilised invertebrates, and specimens have been found on every continent. A trilobite is featured in the 1954 Toho film Godzilla, while a cybernetic one played a minor role in the 2002 film Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla.
The term 'trilobite,' meaning "three lobes," refers to the arthropod's structure. Trilobites have an exoskeleton which is divided into three lobes. When alive, trilobites bore a resemblance to the still-extant horseshoe crab.
During the Odo Island expedition in 1954 headed by Kyohei Yamane, a perfectly intact trilobite that had somehow survived to the present day was discovered embedded in a huge radioactive footprint. After further study, Yamane concluded that the trilobite, and potentially numerous other prehistoric lifeforms such as Godzilla, escaped extinction by surviving in deep isolated underwater pockets for millions of years. This particular trilobite had been living in the same underwater pocket as Godzilla when the Castle Bravo hydrogen bomb test conducted at Bikini Atoll completely destroyed its habitat and drew Godzilla to the surface, with the trilobite stuck to the bottom of his foot. As Godzilla crossed Odo Island, the trilobite was dislodged from his foot and came to be found in the footprint.
By 1999, scientist Tokumitsu Yuhara had successfully created a cybernetic trilobite, which was called a Mecha-Trilobite (メカトリロバイト. Using living nerves and tissue from horseshoe crabs along with robotic components and special "DNA computers," Yuhara perfectly replicated the extinct arthropod, which moved and behaved as if it were alive. Yuhara intended to use this method to preserve extinct and endangered species. When the Mekatorirobaito)Japanese government learned of Yuhara's work, it recruited him to use his method to cybernetically revive the original Godzilla as a battle machine dubbed Kiryu so it could fight the second Godzilla.
- A Decade of Dark Horse #4 (1996)
- In the concept art of Godzilla's foot released for Shin Godzilla (2016), a trilobite can be seen stuck to the bottom of his foot, a reference to the trilobite's appearance in the original film.
- Several kaiju bear a resemblance to the trilobite, most notably Destoroyah's microscopic forms, and Shockirus, a fictional species of marine arthropod.
- The monsters known as the Trilopods which appear in the comic series Godzilla: Rulers of Earth (2013-2015) are likely partially named after the trilobite.
- A trilobite appeared in the script for the unmade 1983 American Godzilla film Godzilla: King of the Monsters 3-D.
- A fossilized trilobite appears on a T-shirt given to crew members of Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (2024).
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