Trilobites didn’t go completely extinct until the end of the Permian period. This was the most violet extinction event in the history of the planet, and it wiped out countless other genera of animals. But trilobites had already been on the decline for millions of years before this, probably because other animals were evolving more sophisticated design plans.
Research has suggested that trilobites, which evolved for 300 million years before going extinct, may have gone extinct because of molting. Trilobites apparently molted (shedding and replacing their outer skeleton) in an inconsistent and unorganized way. Between poor molting habits and an increase in predators, trilobites went extinct at the end of the Permian period.
Modern athropods have molting “down to a science” you might say. In trilobites, their molting was inconsistent. When modern arthropods shed their out layer, they emerge from the same part every time, then consume their old exoskeleton afterwards. This allows them to reabsorb much of the minerals required in making new exoskeletons. It is thought that trilobites emerged from different suture sites each time, and did not have practice eating their old shell. Molting is a very vulnerable time for any animal, they are left in a soft and weakened state, sometimes a molt that only partially sheds can cause serious problems. All of these coupled with the other reasons listed above re thought to be primary factors in their extinction.
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