Article: Overgrowth on ammonite conchs: environmental implications for the Lower Toarcian Posidonia Shale
Annette Schmid-Röhl and Hans-Joachim Röhl
Ammonites of the south-west German Posidonia Shale (Early Toarcian) are occasionally overgrown by bivalves, brachiopods or serpulids. Attachment to both sides of the conchs in some specimens suggests attachment during the ammonite's lifetime, with a pseudoplanktic mode of life for the epizoans. However, dense overgrowth restricted to the upper surface of some ammonite shells indicates post-mortem colonization. Our study shows that apart from oxygen supply as a main factor controlling benthic colonization, substrate consistency also played an important part. Unfavourable living conditions prevailed during deposition of the organic-rich sediments, excluding macrofauna in the benthic environment. However, less than 0.1 per cent of the ammonite conchs found during the excavation show overgrowth, indicating that pseudoplanktonism was an infrequently adopted strategy for inhabiting surface waters.