Swimming with the Ammonites
February 18th (Tuesday), 6 p.m., Teton Co. Library Auditorium – Open to Public. Presentation: “Swimming with the Ammonites”, Presented by Kathleen Ritterbush, University of Utah
Ammonites are one of the world’s great evolutionary success stories, having existed for approximately 340 million years and throughout earth’s oceans, until becoming extinct with the dinosaurs 66 million years ago (mya). They are extinct squid relatives that left behind remarkable shells as fossils on every continent. New cutting edge research conducted by Dr. Ritterbush and her team involves modeling how the wildly different shaped and different sized varieties of ammonites moved through the oceans, providing insights into how fast they could swim – and what it would cost them – based on the shapes of their shells. Comparing the wild changes in their shell sizes and shapes through time, and judging their seaworthiness, reveals new ecological context for their ability to survive and conquer the world’s oceans after the multiple mass extinctions that occurred before they, and the dinosaurs, vanished from the earth 66 mya. Dr. Ritterbush’s talk will review her team’s work and the insights they have gained into this once incredibly common creature of earth’s ancient seas.