Trilobites of the Hunsrück Slate, Germany

Locality: Rhine Valley, Rhenish Massif, Western Germany
Stratigraphy: No formal status, Pragian (~Siegenian) to mid-lower Emsian;
pyritized zone restricted to Bundenbach
Age: Lower Devonian ca 392 - 388 Mya
Image of the Hunsrück locality, Western Germany

The fine-grained slate of the Hunsrück of the Rhine Valley in Western Germany provided roofing material for centuries, but the site (especially the Bundenbach area) is better known to paleontology as one of the most important Konservat-Lagerstätten (fossil deposits of exceptional preservation) in Europe, exhibiting preservation of soft tissues in pyrite. In the Hunsrück are some of the very few specimens of trilobites showing antennae and limbs, as well as internal organs, visible in x-ray images. The fossil groups best represented in the Hunsrück Slate include trilobites, echinoderms, and vertebrates. Ferdinand Roemer (1862) published the first paper on the Hunsrück fossils, and key workers that followed (e.g., Opitz, Richter, Lehmann, and Stürmer) advanced knowledge of the fossils at the site, as well as the nature of marine ecosystems during the Devonian.

Location of the Hunsruck Slate lagerstatte today
Locality of the Hunsruck Slate during the Early Devonian

 Hunsrück trilobites:
Although the Hunsrück is known for unusual and distinctive arthropods such as Mimetaster hexagonalis, Vachonisia rogeri, Cheloniellon calmani, and Nahecaris stuertzi, quite a diversity of trilobites in four orders are also known, the most famous of which is Chotecops ferdinandi (the most abundant), because of numerous specimens preserved with limbs and internal organ features. Unfortunately, aside from some of the Phacopida, the other orders are only rarely encountered and typically incomplete specimens, so the four taxa depicted below are the most complete representative images available for Hunsrück.


?Zlichovaspis rhenanus
(Kayser 1880)
Chotecops ferdinandi
(Kayser 1880)
Rhenops cf. lethaeae
(Kayser 1889)
Parahomalonotus planus
(Koch 1863)


Order Corynexochida
Suborder Illaenina
Family Styginidae
   Scutellum wysogorskii Lehmann 1941

Order Lichida
Superfamily Odontopleuroidea
Family Odontopleuridae
   Ceratocephala sp
cf. Kettneraspis sp undet

Order Phacopida
Suborder Phacopina
Superfamily Acastoidea
Family Acastidae
   "Asteropyge" sp
   Comura sp.
   Rhenops? limbatus (Schluter 1881)
   Rhenops cf anserinus (Richter 1916)
   Rhenops lethaeae (Kayser 1889)
   Treveropyge drevermanni (R. Richter 1909)

Family Phacopidae
   Chotecops ferdinandi (Kayser 1880)
   Chotecops opitzi Struve 1985

Superfamily Dalmanitoidea
Family Dalmanitidae
  ?Zlichovaspis (=Odontochile) rhenanus (Kayser 1880)

Suborder Calymenina
Family Homalonotidae
   Burmeisterella aculeata (Koch 1883)
   Dipleura aff laevicauda (Quenstedt 1852)
   'Homalonotus' sp.
   'Homalonotus' hunsrueckianus Fuchs 1899
   Parahomalonotus planus (Koch 1883)

Order Proetida
Superfamily Proetoidea
Family Tropidocoryphidae
   Cornuproetus hunsrueckianus Richter 1936

For more information, see:

Bartels, C., D.E.G. Briggs, & G. Brassel. 1998. The fossils of the Hunsrück Slate: marine life in the Devonian (Cambridge paleobiology series: 3). 309 pp.

University of Bristol's Hunsruck Slate page.

Related page: Gees, Germany
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Walking Trilobite animation ©2000 by S. M. Gon III
last revised 31 July 2009 by S.M. Gon III