Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Orthoceras Fossils

Orthoceras was the very early ancestor of squids.  The name literally means Straight horn. They are an extinct marine mollusk, similar to the nautilus but with a straight shell.   This shell is the only part of the animal that survived decomposition and the ravages of time.
Orthoceras was a soft creature that lived in the outermost compartment of the shell.  It had long tentacles that allowed it to feed on plankton and small marine life.  As it grew it would seal off the previous compartments. The longer the animal lived the larger the shell would become.   
A long tube ran the length of the shell allowing the creature to propel itself through water by moving air and water through the tube.
Orthoceras ranged in size from 3 inches to over 6 feet!
The fossils are from the Silurian Age making them over 400 million years old.
When the Orthoceras died it sank to the ocean floor where it was covered with sediment and over time turned to stone.  These common fossil specimens are often found in large clusters.  The contrast of the soft grey fossil against a dark matrix makes the mined specimens highly desirable.  They are used in sculpture and other decorative rock carving applications such as bowls and boxes. The FamiLee Jewels use the smallest of these beautiful specimens in our Ancient History Collection.
Interesting Orthoceras facts:
Orthoceras as well as other fossils are said by crystal healers  to increase life span, reduce toxins, anxiety, stress, balance the emotions, make one more confident.
Othoceras fossils were once called pagoda stones in China because of their resemblance to the stone temples built there.


  1. I always loved orthoceras fossils, never really thinking about what they were when I was a child.
    When I started making jewelry, my look on them changed. They are so beautiful.
    Thanks for all the info!

  2. Thank you Cat. There is just something wonderful about holding a fossil in your hand and feeling the earths connection.