Facts about Belemnites, an extinct prehistoric animal

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Dinosaur Jungle   >   Other Prehistoric Animals   >   Belemnites



Click here for more Belemnite Pictures

Scientific Classification
  Kingdom Animalia
  Phylum Mollusca
  Class Cephalopoda
  Subclass Coleoidea
  (unranked) Cohort Belemnoidea
Belemnites are an extinct group (there are actually several different Orders of Belemnites) of cephalopod molluscs. They first appeared in the Devonian period about 416 million years ago, were particularly abundant during the Mesozoic Era, especially during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, but went extinct during the Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction.

Belemnites are believed have been similar to modern squid, and were related to cuttlefish. They had ten arms of approximately equal length, which were apparently equipped with hooks for grabbing prey, and also an ink sac. They also had an internal chambered shell (known as the "guard" or "rostrum") which was enclosed by muscular tissue.

Fossils of Belemnites are common, so much so that they are sometimes used as "index fossils" (Fossils used to determine the relative date of rocks), particularly in the case of Cretaceous period chalk formations). However, although occasionally fossils have been found showing soft-tissue, normally only the shell of the animal is preserved, and this of course represents a tiny fraction of the total animal. The smallest shells are less than ½ inch (about 1 centimeter) in length, but the largest found are around 18 inches (46 centimeters) in length - suggesting the largest Belemnites were probably around 10 feet (3 meters) in size.

Today, a type of Belemnite, Belemnitella Americana is the State Fossil of the US state of Delaware.

Click here for more Belemnite Pictures

Belemnites Timeline:

Belemnites were cephalopod molluscs that lived in the seas between 416 and 65 million years ago

Belemnites were cephalopod molluscs that lived in the seas between 416 and 65 million years ago

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