Early ontogeny, anomalous growth, and healed injuries in the Silurian nautiloid Ophioceras Barrande - Implications for hatching and the autecology of the Tarphycerida


Authors: Turek V, Manda Š

Published in: Bulletin of Geosciences, volume 91, issue 2; pages: 331 - 366; Received 27 November 2015; Accepted in revised form 4 May 2016; Online 29 June 2016

Keywords: Nautiloidea, Tarphycerida, Silurian, early ontogeny, hatching time, septal spacing, anomalous growth,

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Our study of the early ontogeny of the Silurian Ophioceras has led to the revision of the current concept that many juvenile tarphycerids possessed a coiled conch upon hatching and thus resembled adults in habit as is in extant Nautilus. In fact, there is no evidence that any Early Palaeozoic coiled nautiloid possessed an embryonic conch exceeding half a whorl. A change in conch coiling, occasionally accentuated by a dorsolateral groove analogous to the nepionic constriction and the appearance of conspicuous growth anomalies indicate that, after hatching, Ophioceras possessed a cap-shaped, slightly curved conch, usually approximately a quarter whorl long. A hatchling thus differed substantially from the likely nektonic late juveniles with coiled conchs and their obliquely oriented aperture as in Nautilus. A relatively large first phragmocone chamber and very short body chamber possibly resulted in positive buoyancy and a planktonic habit of hatchlings. The embryonic conch size is highly variable and the height of the first chamber varies between 1.2-2.6 mm. Changes in sculpture across the embryonic/juvenile conch boundary are sometimes gradual, but frequently, hatching is manifested by an abrupt increase in growth line spacing and the appearance of longitudinal ridges. The cicatrix is here documented in the Tarphycerida for the first time. A distinct chamber length decrease, commonly present close to the end of the first whorl, is not linked with hatching. Anomalous conch structures in Ophioceras including healed injuries, atypical shapes of ribs, atypical courses of septa and pits occurring in late juvenile growth stages are described in the light of the autecology of Ophioceras and the determination of early post-embryonic growth anomalies.