Nipponites Ammonite

NIPPONITES AMMONITE

Price for original: $150

Price for 8x10: print

      Heteromorphs are a group of ammonites noted for the bizarre shapes of their shells. Many look like fish-hooks or trombones or paperclips, but the weirdest by far is Nipponites, an ammonite whose shell is pretty much just a ball of knots and turns like a discarded vacuum hose.

     It's a bit difficult to figure out how such a creature lived. Some paleontologists think it was a benthic animal, living buried in the mud or even commensally inside a sponge like many worm-snails do today. Others think it may have been buoyant enough to float in the water column, though its weird shell would have made it an extremely poor swimmer.

     I've made my Nipponites passive drifters like jellyfish or Man-o-wars. They feed by spreading out their arms which are covered in senisitive "fingers" similar to the cirri of Vampire Squid. When prey brushes against the cirri, the Nipponites quickly snags them and reels them in.

     Note the little school of fish using the Nipponites' shell as a shelter.

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