Snail-like creature is a reminder of county’s marine past
Buckinghamshire County Museum Resource Centre
ammonite, a sea-living creature more closely related to the squid and octopus.
The drawing shows how it would have looked in life, with a tentacled face protruding from a protective shell. The animal lived only in the end of the shell; the remaining space was occupied by gas and fluid, which the ammonite was able to vary to move up or down, just like a submarine.
Ammonites first appeared 200 million years ago and became extinct about 65 million years ago. This particular ammonite swam in the warm shallow seas that covered Buckinghamshire 144 million years ago. It was these seas that produced the Portland limestone that today forms the hills within Aylesbury Vale.
As a popular building stone it was much quarried and, consequently, a great number of Titanites fossils would have been discovered, many of which became incorporated in the resulting building such as at Dinton Folly, the Bugle Horn pub and the perimeter wall of Hartwell House.
This particular specimen was found when the Manor House Hospital site was being prepared in 1971, a sizeable reminder of Buckinghamshire’s ancient marine past.