Cephalopod on Cephalopod Crime

New work in the Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society indicates that ammonites were likely preyed upon beaked squids.  The Chamouth Mudstone Formation on the British Coast is famous for its ammonite fauna from 183-195 million years ago.  Twenty percent of the ammonites were found to have damage toward the rear of shell.  This spot is the exact point that would allow for severing of  the muscles that held the ammonite within its shell.  Few predators would be capable of such a precise and adept kill.  As the authors state

The most likely predator was an active swimmer, able to hold and manipulate a smooth, possibly slippery, ammonite shell.”

The asymmetrical damage is consistent with a hard parrot-like beak.  Sound familiar?  Cephalopod kill shot!

Fatally bitten ammonites from the lower Lias Group (Lower Jurassic) of Lyme Regis, Dorset — Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society.

Dr. M (1801 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Executive Director of the Lousiana University Marine Consortium. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Additionally, Craig is obsessed with the size of things. Sometimes this translated into actually scientific research. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

2 Replies to “Cephalopod on Cephalopod Crime”

  1. The story is just a bit less exciting because we already know how it turns out – the coleoids win!

    That’s interesting, though; some octopuses are known for very efficiently breaking/drilling bivalve shells to get the treats inside. Must be a pretty useful skill set in the ocean.

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