The first face

The miracle of Phacops rana
It’s Dad’s birthday next week, I tell the boys. What shall we get him? Without hesitation, they chime in: the Phacops rana at A2Z. A2Z is a science and nature store in town, where our youngest is taking weekly yo-yo lessons. His father has been admiring this particular trilobite for months. And why not? No one could fail to be charmed by a creature that, after 400 million years sunk in sediment, has emerged looking like the Venus of Willendorf. Curled up for protection, the Phacops sits snugly in the palm of the hand and gazes at us through big, round eyes composed of dozens of miniature calcite lenses. Here is the miracle of a face, very nearly the first face in the fossil record, compounded by the prodigy of mineral vision.

 

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