Photo by C. Gronau
Is is possible that any trilobites survived beyond the Permian extinction, 250 million years ago? Is there evidence of trilobites surviving in modern times? I think we can safely say no to both of those questions, but there are some modern creatures with compelling similarities to the vanished and ancient arthropod group known as trilobites.
The serolid isopod above is an amazing example of how contemporary creatures with lifestyles similar to the presumed lifestyles of trilobites can adapt a similar appearance. Though outwardly appearing to resemble a trilobite, this animal is actually a relative of crabs and lobsters. Isopods are extremely numerous and adaptable, living in virtually every marine environment, including the Antarctic and deep ocean. They also live under rocks and decaying plants on land.
The young of the Madagascar hissing cockroach is better able to forage through jungle leaf litter and hide from potential predators because of its flattened, trilobite-like form, but this creature is an insect. Another insect known as the trilobite beetle got its name for obvious reasons...
It's also easy to see the superficial resemblance of horseshoe crabs to trilobite fossils, and one would assume these creatures had close kinship, but the horseshoe crabs' lack of calcite lenses in their eyes, as well as other structural differences clearly places them in a group outside of trilobite orders.
Another group of polyplachophoran mollusks known as chitons have fooled beach combing observers into thinking they had stumbled upon fossilized or living trilobites.
It seems that many living creatures find the same benefits of protection and flexibility that served the ancient trilobites by exploiting variations of flattened, segmented armor.