Trilobites are a well-known fossil group of extinct marine animals which became extinct about 250 million years ago. The trilobites roamed the oceans for 0ver 270 million years and were among the most successful of all early animals. About 17,000 species are known thanks to their exoskeleton which is easily fossilized and which has resulted in a rich fossil record.
Ammonites are another extinct group of marine invertebrates. They are molluscs in the class Cephalopoda in which we also find octopuses, squids, cuttlefishes and the nautilus.
Their name comes from the shells which resemble the horns of a ram. Plinny the Elder who died in 79 AD, called them ammonis cornua (“horns of Ammon”) because the Egyptian god Ammon was usually shown wearing ram’s horns.
The last ammonites disappeared 65 million years ago at the same time as the dinosaurs.
No trilobites or ammonites are found in Maltese rocks because their extinction took place before the Maltese islands were formed.
The collection on display at the museum belongs to Mr. Michael Gatt of Rabat, who has been collecting these interesting fossils for the past 25 years. The exhibition will be open to the public from Friday 3rd June to Sunday 3rd July 2011.