My name is Aleksandr Mironenko, I am a paleontologist and paleobiologist. I have been interested in nature and fossils since my childhood. Although for most kids the dinosaurs are the most popular ancient creatures, I always have been more interested in invertebrate fossils such as fossilized seashells. The first fossil seashells for my collection (they were Devonian brachiopods) I found in gravel on the roads of Moscow, my hometown, when I was about 10 years old.
Nevertheless, my way to the paleontological science was long and winding and for a long time paleontology was only my hobby. I graduated from university in 2003 with a BA and specialist degree (analogue of a masters degree in the old Russian system) in environmental sciences. In the first year in the university, the training included a short course of geology with elements of paleontology and with excursions to various fossil localities. After I found out where well-preserved fossils can be collected, I became an active fossil collector and amateur paleontologist. A large number of easily accessible localities of the Jurassic age in the vicinity of Moscow and in the city itself influenced the choice of my main object of collecting and later of my research - ammonites. A few years later, while still an amateur paleontologist, I completed a bachelor's degree in computer sciences. For several years I worked as a web-programmer and in my spare time made two paleontological web-sites: Paleometro.ru, dedicated to fossils which are located in the wall decorating material of the stations of Moscow Metro, and Ammonit.ru – mix of a forum, social network and a fossil record database for amateurs and specialists in the paleontology.
Collecting ammonites and fossil nautiloids led me to reading paleontological literature - I tried to read all the articles and books on cephalopod paleobiology (especially on ammonoid paleobiology) which I could find. Thanks to the Internet and help of my friends - professional paleontologists, I had access to both classic books and modern journal articles and gradually realized that among ammonites in my collection there are some paleobiological features that had not been described in literature. Since 2014 I began to describe these findings in my own publications. Thus I went from being a reader to a writer of scientific articles and became a self-educated paleontologist.
Currently, I work at the Geological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (ginras.ru) as a researcher. My professional interests concentrate mainly on Jurassic and Cretaceous ammonoids, but cover all fossil cephalopods, including various Paleozoic nautiloids. I am interested in various aspects of the evolution, paleoecology, and paleobiology of the fossil nautiloids and ammonoids: the structure and evolution of their jaw apparatus, muscular system, and siphuncle tissues, their growth, reproduction, sexual dimorphism, etc. I like to go and take part in excavations and to find cephalopod shells for future research. I alternate between the writing of scientific papers and popular publications and maintains my websites.
Comments are provided on a published paper on Middle Jurassic Laevaptychus from central Mexico [C.EsquivelMacías, P.Zell, J.A.Moreno-Bedmar and K.Flores-Castro, Giant Middle Jurassic Bathonian) cf. Laevaptychus sp. of the Aztl´ an section, Hidalgo State, central Mexico, Journal of South American Earth Sciences, 110, 103302]. This article describes an interesting finding of large-sized ammonite lower jaws (aptychi referred to Laevaptychus paragenus), claimed as the largest Jurassic aptychi ever known. However, the age of these specimens was erroneously defined due to misidentification of an associated ammonite specimen as Bathonian Procerites. Although poorly preserved, this ammonite shows typical features of the Kimmeridgian genus Idoceras. The Kimmeridgian age of these occurrences is in agreement with findings of Laevaptychus, as this is one of few aptychi formal genera, which belongs to a single ammonite family (Aspidoceratidae). Aspidoceratids appeared in the late Callovian and during the evolution of this lineage maximum sizes of adult specimens and the relative whorl height gradually increased up to Kimmeridgian - Tithonian; only prior to their extinction in early Berriasian, aspidoceratids became uncommon and smaller in size. Laevaptychi are thick-valved aptychi, which have high preservation potential while compared with other aptychi of Jurassic ammonites and their host shells. Giant laevaptychi reported in previous publications (the largest of which reaches 35 cm in length) are briefly reviewed. In adult aspidoceratids the maximum length of aptychi is slightly less than the maximum whorl height. Thus, taking into account the size of the largest aspidoceratid ammonites (up to 85 cm in diameter), the estimated length of the largest laevaptychi can be expected to be ~35–40 cm, which is close to their known record.More >>>
A single, atypical conchorhynch (calcitic tip of a cephalopod lower jaw), recovered from the uppermost Meerssen Member (Maastricht Formation, upper Maastrichtian) at the former ENCI-HeidelbergCement Group quarry, south of Maastricht, is described as a new parataxon, Conchorhynchus illustris sp. nov. The specimen can be differentiated from all previous conchorhynch records on account of its large size, elongated shape and, in particular, of the structure of its apical part which is smooth and forwardly elongated. During the Late Cretaceous, conchorhynchs formed part of the jaw apparatus of nautilids and of two ammonoid suborders, Phylloceratina and Lytoceratina. Since conchorhynchs are most often found separated from jaws, establishing to which group of cephalopods their bearer belonged can be complicated. Here, for the first time, we propose a set of morphological criteria to differentiate clearly between nautiloid and ammonoid conchorhynchs. Although Conchorhynchus illustris sp. nov. is distinct from all currently known nautilid conchorhynchs, the sum of its morphological features is indicative of assignment to that cephalopod group. The upper portion of the Maastricht Formation in the Maastricht area (Nekum and Meerssen members) has yielded internal and external moulds of shells of the nautilid Eutrephoceras and the hercoglossid Cimomia. The new conchorhynch type described herein most likely belonged to one of these shell-based taxa. Judging from its unusual shape, the feeding strategy of its bearer must have differed from that of modern nautilids, in that it held and pierced prey rather than crushed sturdy shells.More >>>
The aptychi of ammonites combined the functions of lower jaws and protective opercula. They consist of two parts: an inner organic layer and an outer calcitic lamella. In different evolutionary lineages of ammonites, the shape of aptychi, the sculpture of their surface and the microstructure of the calcitic layer vary greatly. However, the structure of the aptychi is not known for all evolutionary lineages of ammonites. Although numerous aptychi have been described for the Jurassic family Aspidoceratidae, almost all of them belong to only one evolutionary branch of this family – the Aspidoceratinae (sensu lato). For the second branch – the Peltoceratinae, only one aptychus had been described to date and the structure of its calcitic layer remained unknown. In this article, for the first time, the structure of the aptychus of the Peltoceratinae (upper Callovian Peltoceras) is described. The surface of this aptychus is covered with rough ribs and the calcitic part consists of only one layer of dense calcite. The thickness of the aptychus is much greater than that of the aptychi of supposed ancestors of the Peltoceratinae. The increase in the thickness of the aptychi in both the Aspidoceratinae and the Peltoceratinae, contemporaneously with the appearance of spines on their shells, is most likely related to increasing the protective function of the aptychi of these ammonites in the late Callovian.More >>>
The first well-preserved soft-body imprint of a fossil squid was discovered from the Lower Oligocene of the Krasnodar region, Russia. The squid is perfectly preserved, with many details of its body available for study, such as imprints of eyes and head, a pair of statoliths, jaws, and stomach contents. Statoliths of this squid are the first finds of in situ statoliths in fossil non-belemnoid coleoids, and their shape is characteristic of the genus Loligo (family Loliginidae). Although some Mesozoic coleoids were previously classified as teuthids, these finds remain controversial and the squid described herein is the first unquestionable representative of fossil Teuthida known to date. It should be noted that the squid is preserved not due to phosphatization, which is typical for fossil coleoids, but by pyritization and carbonization. Numerous fish remains in the stomach contents of the squid indicate its piscivorous diet. A small cutlassfish Anenchelum angustum, which was buried together with the squid and whose bones are located near the squid's jaws, sheds light on the circumstances of the death of this animal. Most likely, the squid suffocated in the anoxic bottom waters, where it drowned along with its last prey (distraction sinking).More >>>
Sphenothallus specimens are reported for the first time from the Mississippian of Central Russia. All Sphenothallus specimens have a phosphatic composition and a characteristic laminar structure, which is best observable in the thickened lateral parts of a tube. Most of the lamellae in the tube wall are straight, but some have a wavy morphology and a few are so wrinkled that they form hollow “ribs”. The wrinkled lamellae presumably had an originally higher organic content than the straight lamellae. There are borings on the surfaces of some lamellae that are similar in morphology to the bioerosional traces in various hard, biomineral substrates. Lamellae in the inner parts of the tube wall are composed of fibres. The fibres are parallel to the surface of the tube wall and in successive laminae they differ in orientation by irregularly varying angles. It is possible that the plywood microstructure in Sphenothallus was originally organic and was later phosphatized during fossilization. An alternative, but less likely explanation is that the plywood structure was originally mineralized and therefore is comparable to the phosphatic lamello-fibrillar structures of vertebrates.More >>>
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