The mid-region of the body, composed of jointed segments, is followed by a larger or smaller region consisting of fused segments and termed the pygidium or caudal shield, which in some cases is as large as the head-shield itself, in other cases much smaller.
When the pygidium is large and composed of many segments, the number of free body segments is correspondingly reduced, and vice versa.
It is with respect to this number of segments that respectively constitute the pygidium and the midregion of the body that Trilobites differ most markedly from each other; and it is a singular fact that the extremes in structural organization in this particular to be met with in the Trilobita are found side by side in strata of Cambrian age.
In Paradoxides, for example, there are about twenty freely movable segments followed by a very short and small pygidium, whereas in Agnostus the freely movable segments are reduced to two and the pygidium is as large as the cephalic shield.
In this genus the number of segments composing the pygidium is obscured, as also it is in the genus Illaenus, which has as many as ten movable segments preceding the large semi-circular pygidium; but in such forms as Ogygia and Asaphus, which have about eight free segments, the sutural lines on the pygidium indicate that it is composed of about a dozen or more segments.
Somewhat resembling Agnostus is Microdiscus, with four movable segments and a large pygidium consisting of about five fused segments, the lines of union between the latter being clearly indicated.
The tergal and pleural elements of the pygidium are generally well marked.
Under the pygidium or caudal shield the appendages were much shortened, and their main branch consisted of broader and flatter segments than those of the preceding limbs.
Like the woodlice they were capable of rolling themselves up into a ball, many specimens having been found fossilized in this state, with the pygidium pressed tightly against the head-shield.
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