Much of what experts have learned about ammonoids is thanks to their hard shells which survive more readily in the fossil record. Now, techniques borrowed from engineering, physics and even video games are helping experts envision and examine these extinct animals in ways never before possible.
Paleontologists expect that all ammonoids squirted jets of water to propel themselves shell-first through the seas. In the past, University of Utah paleontologist Kathleen Ritterbush says, researchers would place physical ammonoid models in water tanks to get an idea of how the invertebrates moved. But new technology, presented this week at an American Physical Society meeting, has allowed scientists to take their ammonoid swimming experiments a step further.
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