Not only were they huge, but it appears that this Titanes Ammonite pictured below was a free swimming predator, as it’s fossils are so often found in layers of marine sedimentary rock that shows no evidence of bottom life, that is, they were laid in deep water. So like squid, which are also mollusks, they would have roamed the sea looking for eats. They would have also been fast moving, as the Jurassic seas were full of predators, and indeed many fossil ammonites have puncture marks that perfectly match the teeth of the jaw from mosasaurs, which were sort of like reptilian orcas. A mosasaur would probably have eaten you, or at least taken a chomp at your dangling supermodel legs (it’s always supermodel looking legs that get chomped in movies, never some dumpy looking dude’s), but hell, a mondo gnarly mega giant ammonite like the fucker pictured here might have, too. Eats are eats. It was fast and rugged and mean in those Jurrasic oceans, so these ammonites were thickly shelled. There’d been an arms race between predator and prey since invertebrate predators were invented back in the very late pre-Cambrian (maybe 550 million years back) but all we got now are the fossilized shells, none of the soft bodied creature that lived in and protected by the shell (sort of like, in principal anyway, how are soft brains live inside and protected by our skull), the predators developing stronger and stronger jaws as prey developed stronger and stronger shells. These huge coiled ammonite shells must have been uniquely strong, dealing with a variety of giant swimming reptiles and sharks so vast and terrifying the SciFi channel is still making really cheesy scary megalodon movies today.
Alas, all we got now are the fossilized shells, none of the soft bodied creature that lived in and protected by the shell (sort of like, in principal anyway, how are soft brains live inside and protected by our skull), and no ammonites survive today to tell us how their innards worked. One asteroid and poof, they’re gone, though some species did cling on to existence for an extra 200,000 years. That sounds like quite a stretch, after all recorded human history only goes back 5,000 years, but 200K is scarcely a blip in deep time, almost nothing at all, just long enough for the last of the ammonite species to fail to successfully reproduce in sufficient numbers to survive the new tough times. Sad, really. They developed sometime in the Devonian over 400,000,000 years ago, thrived through all earth’s ups and downs for over three hundred and thirty five million years to have an asteroid just ruin everything. Sometimes shit happens and fucks up everything, to quote, um, well to quote nobody, as no one would be stupid enough to think up that line when trying to sum up such a vast and profound tragedy, so of course it’s the first thing I think of. No wonder I never finished college. But I am rendered wordless, at least pretty and poetic words, trying to describe the empty feeling I get looking at this glorious empty shell of an Ammonite fossil. If only we knew more about them, what they ate, how they hunted, how they mated, what they looked like, even how they propelled themselves. It’s like finding the magnificent binding of a book with all the pages torn out, it’s beautiful but there’s no story inside. Imagine what it had contained, in life, all those hundreds of millions of years of evolution, all the stories, and not even a hint of what they contained. Their story now begins when it’s over with just the saddest postscript imaginable. PS: the earth runs into an asteroid, and the last ammonite fossils we can find are in beds of sediments laid down 200,000 years after the end of the Jurrasic world.
And dig that clever movie tie in. I‘m hoping for a check from Universal any day now.