Ammonites cover

Neale Monks and Philip Palmer

In Ammonites Neale Monks and Phil Palmer pool their expertise into recreating the life and times of the ammonite.

978 0 565 09169 9
May 2003
234 x 154 mm
160 pp
Colour and black-and-white photographs
Natural History Museum


Ammonites often have artistic, mythological and religious associations, though the reality is much more down to earth. They are cephalopods, represented in today's seas by such animals as the nautilus, octopus, squid and cuttlefish. Since they are extinct, it is only through study of their fossils and by observing their living relatives that we can piece together something of their anatomy, their habitat and their ecology. 

One recent significant shift in understanding the lifestyle of these animals has been the move to use active cephalopods like the octopus rather than the nautilus for comparison.

This book describes the evolution and natural history of ammonites, covering ammonite shell, the ammonite animal itself, ammonite biology – design, lifestyle and extinction – and briefly looks at ammonite taxonomy. With a gallery of photographs to support the text, this is an authoritative book for anyone interested in fossils.

This title is now out of print.

See inside

Take a look inside this book to get an idea of its content.

Pages from Ammonites

The introduction to the book.

Pages from Ammonites

The orientation of ammonites.

Pages from Ammonites

A selection of ammonites.

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Two types of ammonites.


Neale Monks was a palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum until 2003 and then a research professor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He has written a number of papers on the evolution of heteromorph ammonites.

Phil Palmer was a scientist at the Natural History Museum in London until his retirement, and has written extensively on fossil molluscs and stratigraphy.


Find out what others think of this book.

"It is some 20 years since I obtained a copy of the English translation of Lehman's book on Ammonoids. Since then there has been a massive amount of research on these popular fossils, and the authors are to be congratulated on drawing this material together in a relatively inexpensive and interesting format. I am sure its handy size, well reproduced figures and clear photographs, including 21 colour plates, will be well received by anyone interested in life in the past. It is not intended merely for aspiring academics, but should be of far greater appeal, being a very approachable natural history, albeit of an extinct creature. One should never judge a book by its cover but in this case one can safely ignore that maxim. If the rest of the Living Past series is as good, those interested in life in the past will be well served. "


"Based on the study of their fossil remains and aided by a comparison with their living cephalopod relatives, this book reconstructs their way of life, environment and physical characteristics."

Mining Magazine