Art Print: Toxoceras – 11″ x 17″ color print on white heavyweight card stock.
Art Print - Toxoceras
How in the world did that squid swim around with a shell like that? It's a question I get asked about this guy a lot. Hard to imagine that, amongst the seemingly endless varieties of ammonite shell shapes in the fossil record, the Toxoceras was one of the more modest. This very early Cephalopod would have swam backwards, just as modern cuttlefish, squid, and octopus do today, which they are surprisingly more closely related to than other modern, shelled Cephalopods like Nautilus. Ammonites were around for quite a long time, from the Paleozoic Era, through most of the Mesozoic. Their fossils are great markers of time when commonly found in shale deposits, as the presence of certain species can date its surrounding material easily, since we have such an accurate and thorough fossil record of them.
I knew I had to do an Ammonite amongst my first batch of drawings, and had originally thought it would be the iconic, Orthoceras, which has a long straight cone that ends at a point and grew to be the size of a car. There are an overwhelming amount of Ammonites known today, some possessing the craziest shells imaginable. And, as much as I love the Orthoceras for his classic, straight shell shape, the Toxoceras popped up in my research, and he was just too beautiful to pass up.
-Aaron John Gregory, Cotton Crustacean