Structure of the calcitic layer of the aptychus of the ammonite genus Peltoceras

Aleksandr A. Mironenko


The aptychi of ammonites combined the functions of lower jaws and protective opercula. They consist of two parts: an inner organic layer and an outer calcitic lamella. In different evolutionary lineages of ammonites, the shape of aptychi, the sculpture of their surface and the microstructure of the calcitic layer vary greatly. However, the structure of the aptychi is not known for all evolutionary lineages of ammonites. Although numerous aptychi have been described for the Jurassic family Aspidoceratidae, almost all of them belong to only one evolutionary branch of this family – the Aspidoceratinae (sensu lato). For the second branch – the Peltoceratinae, only one aptychus had been described to date and the structure of its calcitic layer remained unknown. In this article, for the first time, the structure of the aptychus of the Peltoceratinae (upper Callovian Peltoceras) is described. The surface of this aptychus is covered with rough ribs and the calcitic part consists of only one layer of dense calcite. The thickness of the aptychus is much greater than that of the aptychi of supposed ancestors of the Peltoceratinae. The increase in the thickness of the aptychi in both the Aspidoceratinae and the Peltoceratinae, contemporaneously with the appearance of spines on their shells, is most likely related to increasing the protective function of the aptychi of these ammonites in the late Callovian.

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