Article: Developmental integration related to buoyancy control in nautiloids: evidence from unusual septal approximation and ontogenetic allometries in a Jurassic species
The meaning of modifications in septal spacing that often coincide with maturity in extant Nautilus and fossil nautiloids, and also in ammonoids, remains controversial. In the Callovian nautilid species Paracenoceras marocense Miller and Collinson, 1952, the extent of decrease in septal spacing and the exceptional number of approximated septa are correlated with an unusual positive ontogenetic allometry in whorl-width expansion. This allometric growth implies that the threshold weight of the animal, requiring the formation of a new chamber to maintain near-neutral buoyancy, was reached for an increasingly shorter angular length of shell added to the aperture. Thus, the available space for the newly forming chamber behind the advancing body was reduced accordingly. Ontogenetic modifications in septal spacing are linked to relative growth of the animal. The flexibility in the mechanisms of buoyancy regulation would be expected to have been a critical factor affecting the possible set of ontogenetic trajectories in chambered cephalopods and thus the realm of variation upon which selection could act.