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Predatory behaviour and taphonomy of a Jurassic belemnoid coleoid (Diplobelida, Cephalopoda)


Jenny, Dominique; Fuchs, Dirk; Arkhipkin, Alexander I; Hauff, Rolf B; Fritschi, Barbara; Klug, Christian (2019). Predatory behaviour and taphonomy of a Jurassic belemnoid coleoid (Diplobelida, Cephalopoda). Scientific Reports, 9(1):7944.

Abstract

We describe four complete specimens of the early squid-like cephalopod Clarkeiteuthis conocauda from the Toarcian Posidonienschiefer (Jurassic) each preserved with the bony fish Leptolepis bronni in its arms. Based on the arrangement of prey and predator, we suggest that the cephalopods caught and killed the fishes while still in well-oxygenated waters and then descended into oxygen-depleted water layers (distraction sinking) where the cephalopod suffocated. This explains the exceptional preservation, for which the Posidonienschiefer is famed. This association raises the question for the hunting behaviour of belemnoid Coleoidea. Using the proportions of soft and skeletal body parts of diplobelids and belemnitids, we estimated their body mass and buoyancy and determined the centres of mass and buoyancy. These two points were very close to each other in belemnitids, implying a low hydrodynamic stability (when ignoring the fins), while in diplobelids, the distance between those centres was greater. This suggests that diplobelids usually assumed an oblique to vertical orientation of the body axis while belemnitids could effortlessly achieve a horizontal orientation of their body. Presuming larger fins were attached to the bigger belemnitid rostra, belemnitids were better swimmers and perhaps pursuit predators while diplobelids rather ambushed their prey.

Abstract

We describe four complete specimens of the early squid-like cephalopod Clarkeiteuthis conocauda from the Toarcian Posidonienschiefer (Jurassic) each preserved with the bony fish Leptolepis bronni in its arms. Based on the arrangement of prey and predator, we suggest that the cephalopods caught and killed the fishes while still in well-oxygenated waters and then descended into oxygen-depleted water layers (distraction sinking) where the cephalopod suffocated. This explains the exceptional preservation, for which the Posidonienschiefer is famed. This association raises the question for the hunting behaviour of belemnoid Coleoidea. Using the proportions of soft and skeletal body parts of diplobelids and belemnitids, we estimated their body mass and buoyancy and determined the centres of mass and buoyancy. These two points were very close to each other in belemnitids, implying a low hydrodynamic stability (when ignoring the fins), while in diplobelids, the distance between those centres was greater. This suggests that diplobelids usually assumed an oblique to vertical orientation of the body axis while belemnitids could effortlessly achieve a horizontal orientation of their body. Presuming larger fins were attached to the bigger belemnitid rostra, belemnitids were better swimmers and perhaps pursuit predators while diplobelids rather ambushed their prey.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Paleontological Institute and Museum
Dewey Decimal Classification:560 Fossils & prehistoric life
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Multidisciplinary
Uncontrolled Keywords:Multidisciplinary
Language:English
Date:1 December 2019
Deposited On:29 May 2019 14:14
Last Modified:12 Sep 2020 08:16
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2045-2322
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-44260-w

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