Cameroceras

Name: Cameroceras ‭(‬Chambered horn‭)‬.
Phonetic: Cam-eh-ro-seh-rass.
Named By: Timothy Abbott Conrad‭ ‬-‭ ‬1842.
Classification: Mollusca,‭ ‬Cephalopoda,‭ ‬Nautiloidea,‭ ‬Endocerida,‭ ‬Endoceratidae.
Species: C.‭ ‬trentonense‭ (‬type‭)‬,‭ ‬C.‭ ‬alternatum,‭ ‬C.‭ ‬hennepini,‭ ‬C.‭ ‬inopinatum,‭ ‬C.‭ ‬stillwaterense,‭ ‬C.‭ ‬trentonese.
Diet: Carnivore.
Size: Modern estimates place the shell length at about‭ ‬6‭ ‬meters long,‭ ‬though in the past this has been estimated to have been larger.
Known locations: Fossils known from Europe,‭ ‬North‭ ‬America and mainland China,‭ ‬suggesting a cosmopolitan distribution.
Time period: Middle Silurian.
Fossil representation: Shells.

       Cameroceras is widely regarded as one of if not the largest orthocone cephalopods to ever exist.‭ ‬Unfortunately only estimates for the upper size of the animal exist.‭ ‬More modern interpretations at the end of the twentieth century estimated the length of the shell at around six meters long,‭ ‬though estimates from earlier in the twentieth century suggested that it was as much as nine and even eleven meters long.‭ ‬Even at six meters long however,‭ ‬Cameroceras is still one of the largest cephalopods that we know about,‭ ‬especially for one that lived in the Ordovocian period.
       Cameroceras was a cephalopod,‭ ‬a type of mollusc that includes the octopuses,‭ ‬squids and cuttlefish that we know today,‭ ‬and because of this we can infer a few things about the living animal.‭ ‬The head of the animal would have been soft muscular tissue situated at the opening of the hard cone-like shell,‭ ‬with the mantle‭ (‬main body‭) ‬lying within the shell for protection.‭ ‬Tentacles would have grown from the base of the head like in a modern cuttlefish,‭ ‬and these tentacles would have been used to seize and manipulated prey as the Cameroceras prepared to feed.‭ ‬At the base of these tentacles within the buccal mass‭ (‬analogous to the mouth‭) ‬a hard keratinous beak would have bitten into the bodies of its prey,‭ ‬and would have been so strong that it could crunch straight through the hard shells of other orthocones or even the hard supposedly armoured exoskeletons of eurypterids.‭ ‬Within the beaks of modern cephalopods a‭ ‘‬toothed‭’ ‬tongue is used to rasp out soft tissue from within the preys shell,‭ ‬though it is not known for certain if Cameroceras had this feature.‭ ‬In addition to eurypterids and other Ordovician cephalopods,‭ ‬Cameroceras may have also hunted early jawless fish.
       Occasionally when Cameroceras has been shown in popular culture it has been depicted as having poor eyesight.‭ ‬This is mostly speculation as the eyes of Cameroceras have never been found,‭ ‬but it is a curious decision to suggest such a thing since most cephalopods are visually orientated predators,‭ ‬and some of them actually have quite exceptional eyesight.‭ ‬We do not know for certain how good the eyesight of Cameroceras‭ ‬was‭ ‬but other cephalopods are noted for having a great ability to pick out colours as well as gather‭ ‬and filter‭ ‬light to see in very dark water.
       The history of Cameroceras as a taxon goes all the way back to‭ ‬1842‭ ‬at a time when the science of palaeontology was still very much in its infancy.‭ ‬This is why Cameroceras has also been dubbed a‭ ‘‬wastebasket taxon‭’ ‬because so many other large orthocone fossils have been attributed to the genus when they should not have been.‭ ‬Many of these specimens have since been re-labelled as belonging to other genera,‭ ‬however some genera of large orthocones such as Endoceras have been speculated to actually be synonyms to Cameroceras,‭ ‬suggesting that the fossils may actually belong after all.

Further reading
-‭ ‬The Lower Silurian Cephalopoda of Minnesota.‭ ‬J.‭ ‬M.‭ ‬Clarke‭ ‬-‭ ‬In:‭ ‬E.O.‭ ‬Ulrich,‭ ‬J.M.‭ ‬Clarke,‭ ‬W.H.‭ ‬Scofield‭ & ‬N.H.‭ ‬Winchell The Geology of Minnesota.‭ ‬Vol.‭ ‬III,‭ ‬Part II,‭ ‬of the final report.‭ ‬Paleontology.‭ ‬Harrison‭ & ‬Smith,‭ ‬Minneapolis.‭ ‬pp.‭ ‬761‭–‬812.‭ ‬-‭ ‬1897.
- Status of Endoceroid Classification.‭ ‬Journal of Paleontology‭ ‬29:‭ ‬329‭–‬371.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Rousseau H.‭ ‬Flower‭ ‬-‭ ‬1955.
-‭ ‬Size of Endocerid Cephalopods.‭ ‬Breviora Mus.‭ ‬Comp.‭ ‬Zool.‭ ‬128:‭ ‬1‭–‬7.‭ ‬-‭ ‬C.‭ ‬Teichert‭ & ‬B.‭ ‬Kummel‭ ‬-‭ ‬1960.
-‭ ‬Middle and Upper Ordovician nautiloid cephalopods of the Cincinnati Arch region of Kentucky,‭ ‬Indiana,‭ ‬and Ohio.‭ ‬-‭ ‬U.S.‭ ‬Geological Survey.‭ ‬-‭ ‬R.‭ ‬C.‭ ‬Frey‭ ‬-‭ ‬1995.



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