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Pro-ostraca of Triassic belemnoids (Cephalopoda) from Northern Calcareous Alps, with observations on their mode of preservation in an environment of northern Tethys which allowed for carbonization of non-biomineralized structures

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A pro-ostracum – the anterior dorsal plate subdivided into three longitudinal fields – is developed in Triassic phragmoteuthids (Phragmoteuthis, Breviconoteuthis) and the belemnotheutid? (Lunzoteuthis) but is missing in aulacocerids which have a pro-ostracum-like structure – the dorsal apertural crest with arched growth lines. Two types of pro-ostraca: a Phragmoteuthis-type, characterized by arched growth lines in each field, and a Lunzoteuthis-type, in which the median field has arched growth lines and lateral fields bear converging longitudinal ridges, are distinguished. The pro-ostracum with the ridged lateral fields evidently obtained further rapid development; in the Sinemurian belemnite Nannobelus the ridged lateral fields are already formed by the longitudinally exposed narrow portions of succeeding, overlapping sublayers of the pro-ostracum. This structure apparently enabled efficient mantle/shell linkage that facilitated effective manoeuvring, an active mode of life and global radiation of Jurassic belemnites. Exceptional, large scale, preservation of pro-ostraca in lower Carnian of Schindelberg, Lower Austria, and Raibl, North Italy, was possibly due to the concurrency of (1) an environment of the northern Tethys that allowed for post-mortem carbon substitution of chitin and other non-biomineralized material, such as ink and mantle tissue, and (2) the inorganic-organic composition of pro-ostracum as indicated by micro-laminations typical of chitin-containing material and characterized by alteration of chitinous and carbonate laminas similar to those in cuttlebones of Recent Sepia.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2012

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