PETMAR Trilobite Breeding Ranch

The Story

Once upon a time a young person went to college in the midst of the high California Desert. Our nascent Trilobitophile took courses in geology, paleontology, and did a zoology term project on the growth of one trilobite (whose nomen nudem is Mesolenellus guthi). While in the desert, our hero became convinced that trilobites were not extinct, and would make the perfect pet (and not just as a joke, like pet rocks). He also discovered some new fossils, several echinoderms which have been described in the scientific literature (Journal of Paleontology), including Helicoplacus guthi Durham 1993 (which might now be a junior subjective synonym). (The lower case g is standard for species names, and the ending i makes it Latin possessive).

Trilobitology being a non-existent profession, our hero undertook other pursuits. He entered geology, and undertook to set up his own business on the side: its mission, to undertake recombinant DNA experiments and back breed a trilobite for the home pet market, starting with the horseshoe crab. This, he was convinced, would bring fame and fortune. Along the way, and as a byproduct of other endeavors, the Trilobite Rancher has written a number of computer programs which he has found of interest to friends, and he has set out to distribute them. However, in order not to lose sight of his real goal (the Pet Trilobite), and to emphasize that he is not a professional software house, he initially kept prices low (just cover expenses, thank you), and in fact now the programs are available as freeware over the Internet. That way, with a clear conscience he can ignore things like warranties, or updating the manuals and instructions every time he improves a program (but he is still very concerned about bugs in the computer sense).

The Trilobite Ranch uses two logos: an anatomically correct one on the left, and a stylized rendition on the right created by the Ranch's very own lawyer (whoever said you didn't learn anything useful at Yale Law School?).  Observant program users will note that two different trilobites show up when starting the program. This is the work of a random number generator. One trilobite is anatomically correct (an Olenellid, of course), and the other is the ranch logo created by the lawyer brother with the initial letters of the Ranch's name. Since we can't alienate the lawyer, you should get the stylized trilobite most (50.00000000001%) of the time. If not, check your Pentium for a divide error.

The name of the PETMAR Trilobite Breeding Ranch (a combination of the first name of the rancher and his dedicated significant other, with a nice touch being that PET clearly shows the ranch's purpose), the ranch's motto ("Extinction is a State of Mind"), and the stylized PTBR trilobite on the ranch's stationary were all produced by our lawyer (little brother, so he's free and we get what we pay for). Looking for the perfect Christmas present, the lawyer-brother created the aura of the breeding ranch embodied on printed letterhead stationary complete with little VISA/Mastercard symbols. When we needed something to slap on our software, the reality of the ranch was born (but we quickly ditched the credit card symbols; they gave the wrong idea of a commercial operation). Whoever said that you couldn't learn useful things in law school?

"Olenellus lives", the ranch's credo, refers to the little Early Cambrian trilobite last seen alive in about 520 million BC (or maybe it's 520 million B.P.) Watch for its return to a pet store near you in the not too distant future. It is not a virus corrupting your computer. Budding geologists should remember Olenellus, who has a habit of showing up on the Geology GRE as a Lower Cambrian index fossil.

And progress on the pet trilobite? Due to the intense competition in the recombinant DNA market (we started on this well before Jurassic Park), on the advice of our lawyer we decline to mention specifics. Look for results soon--and not in the Journal of Irreproducible Results. The implications for Star Wars ($$$ for the Trilobite Ranch ) should be immediately obvious to the casual observer.

Ranch clients understand the vagaries of trilobite ranching, and we have been given donations of breeding stock to help with the project. The most exotic such trilobites have come from the German Baltic islands, but unfortunately they have not adapted well with our Cambrian critters from California and not not yet produced offspring.


Last revision 1/12/2015