Ronald Reagan famously upset Californians with his quip that, "Once you have seen one California redwood, you've seen them all". He may have felt the same about trilobites, those bizarre crustacean-like creatures that teemed in ancient seas from around 540 to about 250 million years ago, disappearing off the face of God's good earth well before the first dinosaur saw the light of day. That sentiment would certainly not be shared by David Attenborough. In his latest (and last?) television series, "First Life", he displayed even more than his usual childlike enthusiasm for all things natural while handling a fossil specimen. Admiration oozed from every pore. And for good reason. You'd have to be a bit of a slouch to feel indifferent towards these weird and wonderful creatures right out of a sci-fi movie. Those who acknowledge the biblical God as the creator of all things that have ever been will bow inwardly in humble awe towards the One whose imagination gave form to, and whose power gave life to, these ancient "beetles". (For those not familiar with these animals, a session with Google Images will quickly fill the void of ignorance.)
The mind of God knows no limits. Working with one general body plan in mind, God crafted sufficient genetic material to give rise to at least 20,000 different kinds, with more being discovered every year. Practically every issue of every paleontological journal describes a new species. They ranged in size from a millimeter to about 90 centimeters (35 inches),1 and appear to have ranged from shallow freshwater environments to the deep seas; their fossils are found on every continent, demonstrating the worldwide extent of their distribution.
One significant fact to bear in mind is that the more than 20,000 species so far known did not all live at the same time. During the nearly 300 million years they scraped and ploughed and burrowed in bottom sediments, different kinds came and went, providing a fascinating passing parade. For instance, during the Ordovician period (about 490 to 440 million years ago), trilobites "included numerous species with long spines that could exceed the length of the body and that either trailed backward and from their sides or projected dorsally and forward".2 (See illustration below.)
These were probably used in defense and male combat. Earlier and later trilobites lacked these amazing structures. (Either that, or their fossils have not yet been found.) Evolution in action? No way! Divine genius in action.
Experts believe trilobites occupied every conceivable environmental niche and lived an almost inconceivable diversity of lifestyles. "Some trilobites were bottom-dwelling scavengers or predators, others were swimming plankton eaters, and there even appear to have been a group of trilobites which had a symbiotic relationship with sulfur-eating bacteria that provided them with food."3 Recent fossil finds have led at least some paleontologists to propose that trilobites behaved like some modern day crabs and the like in that they migrated and engaged in mass matings! Evidence for migration is provided by finds of caravans of trilobites joined head to tail, a behavior that occurs today among some arthropods on the move. Evidence for the latter comes in the form of a number of finds of huge aggregations of animals that must all have died in the same instant due to a storm-driven surge of smothering sediment. Found with the bodies are large numbers of fossilized, cast-off skins, suggesting that, like many crabs today, they came together to molt and mate.4
Those committed to evolution theory interpret the rise and fall of species over time as evidence of modification by descent. They will argue that God would not have kept updating genomes over time but would have made everything in one gigantic creative flash. Amazing what understanding people who don't believe in God have about the way He would think were He to exist! Evolution theory just doesn't work; the fossils tell us plainly that creation was stretched out over a vast period of time. The real insights into the mind of God come from investigating what He has done. The plethora of extinct creatures tells us that God's creative imagination and power knows no limits. And that His power does not fade with time (Rom. 1:20). After trilobites had passed from the scene, He had ample reserves of energy to bring forth His next tour de force - dinosaurs. (Not to mention numerous other forms of flora and fauna that we don't have time to talk about.) And after them, mammals and flowers and us. What a God is the One True God.