Snail-like creature is a re­minder of county’s marine past

Buck­ing­hamshire County Mu­seum Re­source Cen­tre

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - PEOPLE AND PLACES -

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.

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