"An endocochleate experiment" in the Silurian straight-shelled cephalopod Sphooceras

 

Authors: Turek V, Manda Š

Published in: Bulletin of Geosciences, volume 87, issue 4; pages: 767 - 813; Received 6 January 2012; Accepted in revised form 7 June 2012; Online 15 August 2012

Keywords: Cephalopoda, Angusteradulata, Silurian, shell truncation, colour pattern, mantle extension, internal shell, embryonic shell,

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Abstract

Sphooceras truncatum (Barrande, 1860), a Silurian straight-shelled cephalopod with a short finger-shaped shell, is one of a few cephalopods in which natural truncation of the apical part of the phragmocone from the rest of the conch is confirmed. Periodic natural removal of the apical part of the shell (4 to 5 phragmocone chambers) preceded formation of a terminal callus and a calcareous plug closing the septal foramen. The apical callus probably originated by fusion of the truncation septum with episeptal deposits. These structures temporarily formed the new apex on which two additional calcareous layers had been secreted. A unique specimen preserves a colour pattern in the convex apical region, which proves that the shell in Sphooceras was temporarily completely surrounded by mantle extending from the body chamber, i.e. the cephalopod was at least temporarily endocochleate. The co-occurrence of different growth stages of S. truncatum together with one type of short juvenile orthoceracone shell, with a maximum of eight phragmocone chambers and a very small subglobular initial chamber indicates that these embryonic shells may belong to Sphooceras. Two other genera are discussed, both previously included in the family Sphooceratidae: Disjunctoceras Gnoli in Kiselev, 1992 and Andigenoceras Gnoli in Kiselev, 1992. The newly discovered thickening of the apex in “Disjunctocerasdisjunctum, the type species of Disjunctoceras, indicates that this species does not differ substantially from Sphooceras and should be reassigned to this genus. Similarly, representatives of Andigenoceras also possess characteristic features of Sphooceras. Sphooceras has many features characteristic for modern cephalopods: short, thin-walled, semi-internal shell; phragmocone reduced to only a few chambers; uncalcified connecting rings; apical callus (a structure analogous to the belemnite rostrum); retractor muscle scars situated dorsally; very small protoconch without cicatrix. In some exceptionally well-preserved cephalopods with orthoceracone shell radula with seven rows of teeth were observed. All these features support the thesis that some straight-shelled cephalopods are evolutionarily closer to coleoids than nautiloids and their separation from nautiloids is legitimate. Vascular imprints on the surface of the cameral deposits provide further support for their primary origin and the existence of a cameral mantle. The character of cameral deposits in Sphooceras demonstrates that the systematic value of these structures in other straight-shelled cephalopods, a subject of controversy, has limited value. The morphology of Sphooceras also demonstrates that the boundary between endocochleate and ectocochleate cephalopods is not sharp, i.e. internalisation of the shell in cephalopods occurred repeatedly.