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The History of the Orthoceras Fossil

Did you know that a specimen has to be more than 10,000 years old to be considered a fossil? Some fossils are millions, even billions of years old! 

Have you heard of the fossil known as an orthoceras before? If you haven't, you're in for a treat to learn all about this fossil that's millions of years old. Read on to discover the history of this extraordinary fossil, and why so many collect this beautiful specimen today. 

What Is an Orthoceras? 

An orthoceras is what's known as a nautiloid that is from the Devonian period of the Paleozoic era from millions of years ago. Since they're a marine mollusk, their bodies haven't been preserved. Today, you can find their shells fossilized. 

They're relative to octopus and squid. They have a strong nervous system, jaws, and eyes. While they're not around anymore, you can still keep a genuine piece of history

During the Paleozoic era, they're found in a chamber at the end of its cone shell. Their tentacles are on the outside of their shell and grow from their head.

Their tentacles are what helps them swim and crawl around the ocean floor. It's not known what caused their extinction, but it happened hundreds of millions of years ago. 

Did the Shell Serve a Purpose? 

Inside the shell, the orthoceras would expand the length of the shell. The shells allow the mollusk to regulate its buoyancy. It also allows water to be stored for emergencies. 

Where Can Orthoceras Be Found? 

You can find orthoceras around the world from marine deposits. Common locations are Iowa, Morroco, Scandinavia, and the Alps. 

How Can an Orthoceras Be Used Today? 

Due to orthoceras fossils being harder, many are turned into lockboxes, palm stones, jewelry, plates, etc. You can even use it to make furniture. 

Some use the orthoceras fossil to create home decor. It can be used for countertops, walls, and desks. Some establishments will mine the limestone with the orthoceras fossils for an alternative to wood paneling and drywall. 

Were They Hunters or Herbivores?

Orthoceras are hunters since they have a flexible diet. Whether it's trilobites or plankton, they ate it all. A trilobite is a sea creature that's closely related to today's horseshoe crab.

They're one of the first creatures to develop eyes. Their bodies are broken up into the pygidium, thorax, and cephalon. 

Are They Smart?

They're one of the smartest ocean species. Since they're fast swimmers and highly intelligent, they can escape predators. It can squirt out ink and escape just like an octopus of today. 

Often Confused With Baculites

Did you know that orthoceras are often confused with baculites? While they're both long and tubular, they're from different points in history. Orthoceras are from a much earlier period of time. 

You can tell them apart by their suture line. Baculites are also straight-shelled cephalopods. 

What Are Baculites?

Baculites are an extinct form of cephalopods. They can be found during the Late Cretaceous period. 

Their shell is straight and can have sinuous striae or ribbing that slant ventrally forward. They can also have smooth shells. 

Octopus Are Similar to Orthoceras

Orthoceras are much like the octopus of today. It's believed that the octopus can help us better understand the human brain. An octopus brain has evolved over time, the same as a human's. They can store and record memories. 

Long-term potentiation creates the ability for an octopus to create long-term memories and learn from them. It's interesting too since they're different from vertebrates. 

What Was the Paleozoic Era? 

You can find that the Paleozoic Era runs from about 542-251 million years ago. This is when you can find that the supercontinent breaks and forms into another. 

You can find vertebrate animals starting to colonize on land, and plants becoming more widespread. This era begins due to the Cambrian Period. 

The Cambrian Period

During the Cambrian period, there's an evolution of arthropods. These are the ancestors of crustaceans and insects.

You can also find chordates. Chordates are animals that have rudimentary spinal cords. 

During this era, there is plenty of sea life. After this period is what's known as the Ordovician Period. This period has plenty of marine invertebrates. 

A common invertebrate is a trilobite. This is an armored arthropod. 

The Silurian Period

After the Ordovician Period is the Silurian Period. This is where you start to see jawless fish in the water. This is the time of corals and mollusks. 

The Devonian Period

This leads to the Devonian Period. You can find trees and ferns appearing during this time. You can find the first vertebrates in the land, which are known as the tetrapod. 

Tetrapods can be snake or lizardlike. They can range in size from 4-16 feet.

During the Devonian Period, you can find land-living arthropods. This includes the ancestors of spiders. 

The Carboniferous Period

During the Carboniferous Period, you can find tetrapods laying eggs on land. This leads to them leaving the amphibious life. 

During this period, you can find the ancestors of conifers, and you can find dragonflies. You can also find archosaurs beginning to form. This, later on, leads to birds, dinosaurs, and crocodiles. 

Exploring the History of the Orthoceras Fossil 

Now that you've explored the history of the Orthoceras fossil, you can see just how beneficial and special these fossils really are. Would you like to have a piece of history from the Paleozoic Era? Impress your friends and family by obtaining a genuine Orthoceras fossil today

August 19, 2020 — RJ Khalaf
Tags: fossils

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