Kruta and her team, however, were able to unveil amazingly vivid details about this specimen, and other ammonites that are all extinct.
In a scientific first, a process called synchrotron X-ray microtomography, which creates cross sections of 3D objects without harming them, was used on several ammonites. Some of the fossils were discovered at a site in Belle Fourche, S.D.
The researchers determined ammonites possessed jaws and a radula, which is like a tongue covered with teeth. In this case, the slender teeth varied from saber- to comb-like.
"Ammonites used their radula to trap the food in the mouth and convey it through the esophagus," Kruta explained.
This feeding system, along with the last supper remains, suggests that ammonites were adapted for eating small prey, such as small crustaceans and plankton, floating in the water. Although ammonite fossils are readily available, and are even sometimes sold as jewelry, no one previously knew much about their diet and lifestyle.
Now scientists suspect that the meteor impact thought to have wiped out dinosaurs also killed many of the small creatures hunted by ammonites.