Today I am going to deviate a bit from my normal crystals into a non crystal artifact. But you usually do find them common in crystal shops. They fascinated me because of their polished beauty.
Ammonites are an extinct group of marine animals of the subclass Ammonoidea in the class Cephalopoda, phylum Mollusca. Ammonites’ closest living relative is probably not the modern Nautilus (which they outwardly resemble), but rather octopus, squid, and cuttlefish. Plinius the Elder (died 79 A.D. near Pompeii) called fossils of these animals ammonis cornua (“horns of Ammon”) because the Egyptian god Ammon (Amun) was typically depicted wearing ram’s horns.
Because ammonites and their close relatives are extinct, little is known about their way of life. Their soft body parts are very rarely preserved in any detail. Nonetheless, much has been worked out by examining ammonoid shells and by using models of these shells in water tanks.
Many ammonoids probably lived in the open water of ancient seas, rather than at the sea bottom. This is suggested by the fact that their fossils are often found in rocks that were laid down under conditions where no bottom-dwelling life is found. Many of them (such as Oxynoticeras) are thought to have been good swimmers with flattened, discus-shaped, streamlined shells, although some ammonoids were less effective swimmers and were likely to have been slow-swimming bottom-dwellers. Ammonites and their kin probably preyed on fishes, crustaceans and other small creatures; while they themselves were preyed upon by such marine reptiles as mosasaurs. Fossilized ammonoids have been found showing teeth marks from such attacks.
The soft body of the creature occupied the largest segments of the shell at the end of the coil. The smaller earlier segments were walled off and the animal could maintain its buoyancy by filling them with gas. Thus the smaller sections of the coil would have floated above the larger sections. Many illustrations make the mistake of placing the larger end of the coil at the top for aesthetic reasons but this is factually incorrect.
Like the modern nautilus, many ammonites were probably able to withdraw their body into the living chamber of the shell and developed either a single horny plate or a pair of calcitic plates with which they were able to close the opening of the shell.
Few of the ammonites occurring in the lower and middle part of the Jurassic period reach a size exceeding 23 centimetres (9 inches) in diameter. Much larger forms are found in the later rocks of the upper part of the Jurassic and the lower part of the Cretaceous, such as Titanites from the Portland Stone of Jurassic of southern England, which is often 53 centimetres (2 feet) in diameter, and Parapuzosia seppenradensis of the Cretaceous period of Germany, which is one of the largest known ammonites, sometimes reaching 2 metres (6.5 feet) in diameter. The largest documented North American ammonite is Parapuzosia bradyi from the Cretaceous with specimens measuring 137 centimetres (4.5 feet) in diameter, although a new British Columbian specimen, if authentic, would appear to trump even the European champion.
Other fossils, such as many found in Madagascar and Alberta (Canada), display iridescence. These iridescent ammonites are often of gem quality (ammolite) when polished. In no case would this iridescence have been visible during the animal’s life; additional shell layers covered it.
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Ref : Wikipedia