I’ve been aware of fossils since my dino fanboy days in Greenwich Country Day School, and I used to collect them in a small way on family trips to Gotland. Back home, I would put fossils in malt vinegar and see bits of shell emerge from the limestone matrix. But I never found a trilobite.
Trilobites are the best fossils. Detailed, complicated, and often complete, unlike for instance the crinoids I would find of which only bits of stem like corrugated cigarette butts remained. More structure to the trilobites than to the orthoceratites every Swede treads on in the limestone stairs and hallways of early 20th century public buildings. But trilobites are uncommon or absent from the strata along the coast of Gotland, so I never found one. Until not too long ago, on the front porch of my dad’s house near Stockholm.
In the 50s and 60s, there was a gardening fad in Sweden where people would cover their patios and garden walks with red Öland limestone. I grew up with that stone everywhere, and maybe there were trilobites in it though I never saw one. My first trilobite sits right outside my dad’s front door.
The Öland Red dates from the Ordovician, about 488–444 million years ago. I can’t tell what species the trilobite is. Can you, Dear Reader?