Experimental fragmentation patterns of modern Nautilus shells and the implications for fossil cephalopod taphonomy



Shells of modern Nautilus pompilius from the Philippines were experimentally fragmented designed to mimic: (1) transport with sediment; (2) sediment loading; and (3) collision during floating. The breaking patterns by other mechanisms (predation and implosion by hydrostatic pressure) documented in the literature were also considered. The breaking patterns produced by various mechanisms are distinct and can therefore be differentiated. The results allow identification of the distinct mechanisms responsible for specific fragmentation not only in modern Nautilus but also in fossil cephalopods. This is a new approach for the more complete recognition of post-mortem transport of fossil cephalopods and their early taphonomic history, and contributes to our understanding of their palaeobiogeography and palaeoecology.