Giant ammonites from Kremmling, Colorado, were the focus of an advanced class in the DMNS Certification in Paleontology Program in the fall of 1999. In this class, students worked with Dr. Emmett Evanoff. Emmett is a DMNS research associate and an instructor for the Museum's certification program. The purpose of the course was to observe the features of the giant ammonites, such as suture lines, scavenging marks, burrows, and compression cracks.
Emmett and his students also examined the ammonites for clues to what happened to the animals after they died. The ammonite shells were almost always broken more severely on the side that faced up after their deposition. This suggests that scavengers broke the shells trying to get at the soft tissue of the dead ammonite. Tubeworms and limpets also left their calling cards on the shell walls.
Of the ammonites found near Kremmling, Colorado, the majority were found left-side-up. (If you're wondering which side of an ammonite is the left side, picture the animal facing you. Its shell opening would be on the bottom.) Enough ammonites were found in this position to indicate that this death posture wasn't random, but what caused it is still not clear.
For information on visiting the giant ammonite site, see Fossil Site Regulations.
Johnson, Kirk R. 1999. "Night of the Giant Ammonites" Natural History. (June issue)
Johnson, Kirk R. and Richard K. Stucky. 1995. Prehistoric Journey: A History of Life on Earth. Boulder: Roberts Rinehart Publishers.
Ward, Peter D. 1992. On Methuselah's Trail: Living Fossils and the Great Extinctions. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.
Wolfe, D.G. and J.I. Kirkland. 1999. "The Kremmling Paleontological Resource Area, Middle Park, Colorado" Boulder: University of Colorado Department of Geological Sciences.