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By AStepIntoOblivion   |   Watch
Published: October 30, 2010
© 2010 - 2019 AStepIntoOblivion
Always wanted to do this. :D I've been collecting fossils since I was a kid. I made dioramas of Paleozoic sealife out of clay before. I just realized today that hey, I can actually make dioramas now... in 3d! Lulz

These are Endoceras, primitive cephalopods which later gave rise to our modern squid, octopus, cuttlefish, nautilids, argonauts, etc.

Most other depictions of Endoceras have always bothered me. Endoceras are often shown in illustrations as having advanced features found in modern coleoids - for example, having lenses in their eyes, arms instead of tentacles, and having suckers. IMO that's kinda like putting jet engines on a biplane reconstruction simply because both the F14 and the de Havilland Tiger Moth are aircraft.

Nautiloids are an entirely separate branch from modern cephalopods, their closest descendants being the two genera of Nautilus. And Nautilus/Allonautilus have somewhat primitive retractable tentacles with ridges instead of suckers or hooks, and very primitive pinhole eyes. To put it simple, nautiloids most probably did NOT look like squids with shells.

Bactritids (and other neocephalopodan nautiloids), orthoconic ammonites, belemnites, and other coleoids however are another matter. I think the confusion stems from the fact that Bactritids and some straight shelled ammonites do look superficially like orthoconic nautiloids. But then again, as very little soft tissues of ancient cephalopods have survived (despite having abundant hard fossil remains, that of ammonites especially), and convergence may have actually given them similar evolutionary features as their cousins (much like reptilian/avian feathers and mammalian hair)... we really don't know. :P

Anyway, enjoy. Please do not use this anywhere else without asking permission.
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anonymous's avatar
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PeteriDish's avatar
PeteriDishHobbyist General Artist
hahahha! I completely agree with you in the description! I was immediately struck by the care you took to think outside the box and reconstruct these animals in a way they most likely had looked like, with good reasoning to support your decision. I give you my fave and watch! primitive nautiloids certainly didn't look like squids in a cone, that's absolutely riddiculous. What I find absolutely preposterous, though, that from discussions, I found artists are even adviced by museum currators to reconstruct them in that way. :facepalm:
TunaPrince's avatar
I like this picture, both artistically and for providing an alternative interpretation of Endoceras that's more nautilus-like than squid-like. Might I borrow the image for a slide in a public presentation? I would of course provide credit to you as the artist.

Regarding the affinities of cephalopods - the resemblance of bactritids to orthoconic nautiloids is more than superificial; bactritids evolved from orthocerids. While it may be a mistake to assume all Paleozoic nautiloids had anatomy like coleoids, we also cannot assume they all resembled the modern nautilus, which is itself specialized and might just as likely have evolved its numerous arms from a smaller number of arms in the ancestral cephalopod. Given the great diversity of form we see among Ordovician nautiloids, it's likely they were a lot more varied than what we see among coleoids and nautilus today. Given our uncertainty about these animals known only from shells, an interpretation such as this one has value.
PeteriDish's avatar
PeteriDishHobbyist General Artist
very good point! I am still impressed by this picture, as it shows an independent line of thinking, and despite the fact that the nautilus may very well be specialized in some ways, it is still a better guess to make than than making it look like a squid in a cone. Sort of like latimeria. it may very well be specialized in its own ways, but it still can help us better understand what fossil species probably looked like, it can even give insight on soft tissue anatomy, even if not in the details, the general structure we see today would be similar to the preexisting one, even though the preexisting species may have added a few unique twists of their own to it.

I think this picture is very well done. sure, it is still speculative, but the speculations made seem very reasonable. When you look at it, it doesn't even look exactly like a nautilus, it looks more primitive than that. like you said, the number of arms/tentacles may have been variable, for example, so this is not a perfect or an exactly correct reconstruction, but given what we know about cephalopods and phylogenetic bracketing, this is miles closer to what these animals most likely looked like than any "squid in a cone" reconstruction could ever dream about.
lmmetz's avatar
Hi! I am really interested in fossils as well. I was wondering if you could refer me to some research on the type and number of tentacles Ordovician cephalopods had. Thanks!
richdoe's avatar
this is awesome. Really, extremely cool. Could you do more Devonian (sp?) or earlier era creatures? This is seriously one of my favorite parts of history.
AStepIntoOblivion's avatar
Thank you. ^-^

I actually have a nearly finished (needs texture) Eurypterus model. But I hadn't had the time to get around to texturing it yet, sadly. And yep, same here. Paleozoic rawks. :D
DeviBrigard's avatar
its nice to see a thorough description of the subject
nicely done, those tentacles must have taken some time

steampunk carrots really wasnt what I was thinking, but I can see it now.
Duerkark-the-Witness's avatar
I'm going to fav this, because I've never seen anything like it, and I think it's totally unique.

But I still can't sop myself from thinking they look like Steampunk carrots. B|
rik2110's avatar
I'll congratulate producing the prehistoric feel of the animal, LOL'd and have to agree with the carrot & steam punk thing.
anonymous's avatar
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