Largest Ammonite in the World is Fossil of the Year 2008

Pal ontologische Gesellschaft chooses 80 million year old Kopff er from Westphalia

Life picture of Parapuzosia seppenradensis © LWL Museum of Natural History in Münster
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80 million years old, 3.5 tonnes in weight and almost two meters in diameter: With these dimensions, the largest complete ammonite in the world impresses visitors to the LWL Museum of Natural History in Münster, Westphalia. Reason enough for the paleontological society Parapuzosia seppenradensis to choose the fossil of the year 2008. The award was given to the giant today at his home base.

"Castings of the 3.5-tonne and 180-centimeter extinct marine animal Parapuzosia seppenradensis are exhibited in almost every major natural history museum in the world, " says Professor Jes Rust of the Steinmann Institute of Geology, Mineralogy and Paleontology at the University of Bonn and President of the Paleontological Society Meaning of the fossil. After the extraordinary exhibit had disappeared behind a wall of the Münster Museum for almost ten years, heavy special vehicles finally pulled the giant ammonites millimeter by millimeter into the foyer in 2006.

Discovered more than 100 years ago

Former Director of the Westphalian Provincial Museum of Natural History, Professor Hermann Landois, next to the giant ammonite shortly after his rescue © LWL Museum of Natural History in Münster

More than a century ago, cephalopods were excavated in a quarry near Seppenrade in southern Münsterland. In 1895, a telegram with the news of the sensational discovery reached the director of the Westphalian Provincial Museum - for 125 Goldmark he acquired today's landmark of the LWL Museum of Natural History.

"The largest complete ammonite in the world is preserved as a stone core: the original cavity is filled with sediment and the calcareous housing was dissolved away, except for a few residues, " explains Dr. Lothar Schöllmann from the LWL Museum of Natural History in Münster. From this stone core, the complete left side with a total of four turns has survived the millions of years. The basic shape of the housing is a rolled up spiral, from the outside the dividing walls are clearly recognizable as so-called praise lines. They represent an important distinguishing feature of the various types of ammonites and groups.

Giant ammonite with spade as a measure LWL Museum of Natural History in M nster

SchaleThe shell is divided into two sections, the living chamber and the chambered buoyancy body. Its chambers were filled with gas in the living animal mainly. By pumping in and out of chamber fluid, the giant ammonite was able to ascend or descend in the water, "explains Schllmann. display

Size as protection

Ammonites are an extraordinarily successful group of animals in the history of the earth. They existed from the Lower Devonian (417 million years ago) to the end of the Cretaceous (65 million years ago). The size of the shell of adult animals was usually in the range of centimeters, Parapuzosia seppenradensis belongs with probably up to two meters in diameter to the giants.

Such giant forms inhabited the oceans, especially during the Cretaceous period. Following strong global sea-level rise, head crops were able to settle in extensive shallow water areas. Their size brought the animals advantages such as protection against predators and probably a higher age.

The giant ammonite can be seen year round in the LWL Museum of Natural History in M nster.

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(Anja Meyer, Paloontological Society, 08.01.2008 - DLO)