Invertebrate Fossils

Ammonites

Ammonites were ancient marine invertebrates that first appeared in the Devonian era (400 million years ago), and became extinct (with the dinosaurs) at the end of the Cretaceous era 65.5 million years ago. They serve as excellent index fossils as they allow for linkage of the rock layer in which they are found to specific periods of geologic time. While typically taking the form of plane spirals, some were helically spiraled or non-spiraled.

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Crinoids

Crinoids were primarily fixed animals incorporating a fan-like crown supported by a tethering stem, which was attached to a raft-like structure. Their movement and food supply was dependent upon water currents as their anchoring log/raft was dragged through the water.

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Dragonflies

Dragonflies (Odonata) have changed little other than in size over the 325 million years since they first made an appearance in the fossil record of the Carboniferous Period, underscoring the success of their biological design. Many types of dragonflies may be found within the Solnhofen Plattenkalk, with the fossils often so exquisitely preserved that every vein of the wings is distinctly evident. Their dramatic beauty bespeaks dragonfly fossils as amongst the most highly sought after specimens, with rarity, size and preservation being some of the distinguishing characteristics defining their value.

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Horseshoe Crabs

Dating in the fossil record to the Silurian Period of more than 400 million years ago, this group of animals has changed very little over the last 300 million years. As the thin exoskeleton of the horseshoe crab does not typically preserve well, horseshoe crabs are rare in the fossil record. The magnificent preservation of Solnhofen specimens derive from the anoxic environment of the seas in which they came to rest and the fine grained limestone matrix within which these fossils are preserved.

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Insects-Other

Truly well-preserved insect specimens within the Solnhofen Plattenkalk are very uncommon. The finely grained limestone, which captured exquisite detail, has yielded only an extremely limited number of hymenoptera. Such specimens are highly desirable for the discerning collector.

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Lobsters

Unlike the Natantia (shrimp), the Reptantia are much less common within the Solnhofen Plattenkalk. Once again, the exquisite preservation created by the environment within which the animals came to rest captured the amazing detail evident in these specimens.

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Octopus

Dating to approximately 95 million years ago, very few octopus species are represented in the fossil record, a consequence of the soft tissue which comprise the specimens and which rarely escapes decomposition. Well preserved examples are extremely rare.

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Shrimp

The Natantia are the most common crustacea found within the Solnhofen plattenkalk. These swimming crustaceans possess ten paired legs, thereby being designated within the Order Decapoda.

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