All in a whorl

We knew we were in for it when we chose a picture library image of an unidentified ammonite for the cover of the November issue of Geoscientist.  So far reactions have been of two kinds – compliments on the graphic design, and complaints regarding the lack of diagnosis.  So, hoping to move on beyond the commercial photolibrary’s rather unhelpful “Fossil 9857643”, we asked around.

Wolfgang Schollnberger had contacted us and tentatively identified the specimen as “an arietitid”, but without being able to examine the outer whorl, getting any further with the identification was a palaeontological poser.  Sadly the original picture from the agency was cropped just as presented on our cover.

Coroniceras lyra, L. Sinemurian. Courtesy, Murray Edmunds

Then to the rescue came Professor John Cope of the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, who (agreeing with the arietitid designation) contacted fellow ammonitologist Murray Edmunds (author of a recent Palaeontographical Society monograph on eoderoceratids and in his day-job Director of Medical Writing at Watermeadow Medical).  Murray identified it as Coroniceras lyra, from the Lower Sinemurian.  We are lucky enough to have received a picture of one of Murray’s own specimens of the species (with shell, rather than mouldic preservation).

So, thank you gentlemen.  A note to this effect will appear in Geoscientist next year.

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