The soft-bodied animal lived in the last open-ended segment of the shell. As the Orthoceras grew it would grow a new open segment of its shell “home” and move into it when it was too small for the previous segment.
A narrow tube called a siphnucle ran the length of the Orthoceras shell. The Orthoceras could fill it with water and then force the water out as a means of propulsion. The tube, once emptied of water, served as a buoyancy device, allowing the Orthoceras to rise and lower itself in its marine environment.
Amazingly, this prehistoric creature could grow from half-inch to over 14 feet in length. Its modern-day relatives are the nautilus, octopus, cuttlefish and squid. Your Orthoceras is a genuine fossil discovered in the fossil beds of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.
A fossil is the prehistoric remains of a plant or animal. Most fossils are created when a plant or animal is buried under layer after layer of sand and mud. Under the massive pressure of hundreds of thousands of years these layers become sedimentary rock. Minerals from the rock seep into the plant or animal, replacing them with a perfect replica in stone.
Fossils come in all shapes and sizes – they are as varied as the plants or animals they once were. The largest are dinosaur bones (which may be ten or more feet in length for a single bone) and the smallest are plant spores only a few hundredths of an inch across.
Fossils are found all over the world. As the wind and rain erode hillsides, fossils become visible, and scientists can find and study them. Removal of fossils from the rock is done very carefully to preserve the beauty and detail of the specimen.
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