PerspectivePaleontology

The Feeding Habits of Ammonites

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Science  07 Jan 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6013, pp. 37-38
DOI: 10.1126/science.1201002

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Summary

Ammonites, a group of cephalopods with external shells, were among the most abundant marine invertebrates in Earth's history. Because of their rich fossil record and rapid morphological evolution, paleontologists have used ammonite fossils to date the age of rock strata (biochronology) and to correlate the ages of ammonite-bearing strata across wide regions. Ammonites as biological entities, however, are poorly understood, largely owing to the absence of a direct living counterpart. Their feeding and dietary habits, for example, have been unclear. On page 70 of this issue, however, Kruta et al. (1) offer some insight into how—and what—one Late Cretaceous ammonite ate. It is the first study to use synchrotron x-ray microtomographic techniques to investigate the paleobiology of ammonites.