Fossilized Prehistoric Squid - Polished Orthoceras Fossil

A lovely example of a fossilized Orthoceras specimen, dating to the Devonian period, 416 -359 million years ago.

The Orthoceras (Greek: straight-horn) is an extinct ancestor of the modern day squid and octopus. An ancient mollusc that managed to grow feet out of its head, it first graced our oceans over 450 million years ago.

The Orthoceras derived its name from its characteristic long, straight, conical shell.

The body of the creature lived in the largest, open-ended segment. Like the modern day squid and octopus, it had an ingenious way of propelling itself through water by utilizing a siphuncle (partly visible on this specimen), a tube that ran the entire length of its shell; once filled with water, this could be forced out in an explosive manner, propelling the creature backwards like a jet! By replacing the water with an air space in the siphuncle, the animal had its own bouyancy aid, rising and falling to different ocean depths.

These prehistoric creatures ranged in size from a fraction of an inch to 14 feet long! Orthoceras fossils have been found in marine rock in a variety of locations in Morocco, Scandinavia, the Alps and Iowa, USA.

Length: 5 3/4 inches long, lying in situ in its stony grave!

Place of origin: Likely Morocco, collected many years ago.

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