The Evolution and Development of Cephalopod Chambers and Their Shape

  • The Ammonoidea is a group of extinct cephalopods ideal to study evolution through deep time. The evolution of the planispiral shell and complexly folded septa in ammonoids has been thought to have increased the functional surface area of the chambers permitting enhanced metabolic functions such as: chamber emptying, rate of mineralization and increased growth rates throughout ontogeny. Using nano-computed tomography and synchrotron radiation based micro-computed tomography, we present the first study of ontogenetic changes in surface area to volume ratios in the phragmocone chambers of several phylogenetically distant ammonoids and extant cephalopods. Contrary to the initial hypothesis, ammonoids do not possess a persistently high relative chamber surface area. Instead, the functional surface area of the chambers is higher in earliest ontogeny when compared to Spirula spirula. The higher the functional surface area the quicker the potential emptying rate of the chamber; quicker chamber emptying rates would theoretically permit faster growth. This is supported by the persistently higher siphuncular surface area to chamber volume ratio we collected for the ammonite Amauroceras sp. compared to either S. spirula or nautilids. We demonstrate that the curvature of the surface of the chamber increases with greater septal complexity increasing the potential refilling rates. We further show a unique relationship between ammonoid chamber shape and size that does not exist in S. spirula or nautilids. This view of chamber function also has implications for the evolution of the internal shell of coleoids, relating this event to the decoupling of soft-body growth and shell growth.

Export metadata

  • Export Bibtex
Author:Robert Lemanis, Dieter Korn, Stefan Zachow, Erik Rybacki, René Hoffmann
Document Type:Article
Parent Title (English):PLOS ONE
Year of first publication:2016

$Rev: 13581 $