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Temporal range: Middle Ordovician, 470–460Ma
Restoration of Cameroceras
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Cephalopoda
Subclass: Nautiloidea
Order: Endocerida
Family: Endoceratidae
Genus: Cameroceras
Conrad, 1842
Type species
Cameroceras trentonense
Conrad, 1842
  • C. alternatum
  • C. hennepini
  • C. inopinatum
  • C. stillwaterense
  • C. trentonese

Cameroceras ("chambered horn") is a genus of extinct, giant orthoconic cephalopod that lived during the Ordovician period, 470 to 460 million years ago.[1]


Cameroceras, shown feeding on a Aphetoceras, while a quartet of Cyclostomiceras swim by.


The partial shell of one giant Cameroceras yielded a total length estimated at the time at nearly 30 feet (9 m). This estimate has since been revised downward quite a bit;[2] Frey (1995) gives a length of up to 6 m.[3] Regardless of this estimate's degree of accuracy, this gargantuan cephalopod is thought to be among the largest known Paleozoic molluscs.

Taxonomic usage[edit]

"Cameroceras" has become a "wastebasket taxon" in which large orthoconic endocerids such as Endoceras, Vaginoceras, and Meniscoceras have been inserted. This makes it extremely difficult to describe Cameroceras as a distinct genus. Although the type species Cameroceras trentonense was first described by Conrad in 1842, since then the generic term has had variable meaning.

Hall, who named and described Endoceras in 1847 recognized C. trentonense specifically, but used Endoceras for other specimens of large endocerids from the Trenton Limestone of western New York state. "Cameroceras" and "Endoceras" have even been applied to different stages of the same species. Although Cameroceras takes precedence where the two refer to the same species, its vague application leaves Endoceras or other better-described genus the term of choice.

In popular culture[edit]

It was featured in the Ordovician section of the BBC series Sea Monsters (a spin-off to the successful Walking with Dinosaurs) as a nearly blind, feeble-eyed apex predator, and also had a brief cameo in Walking with Monsters, bobbing in the water. In the Walking with Dinosaurs companion books, it is misspelled as "Cameraceras". The 'straight-shelled nautiloid' from Animal Armageddon also seems to be strongly based on this mollusk.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cameroceras sp.". Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Teichert C and B Kummel (1960). "Size of Endocerid Cephalopods". Breviora Mus. Comp. Zool. 128: 1–7. 
  3. ^ Frey, R.C. 1995. Middle and Upper Ordovician nautiloid cephalopods of the Cincinnati Arch region of Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. PDF U.S. Geological Survey.

Further reading[edit]

  • Clarke, J.M. 1897. The Lower Silurian Cephalopoda of Minnesota. In: E.O. Ulrich, J.M. Clarke, W.H. Scofield & N.H. Winchell The Geology of Minnesota. Vol. III, Part II, of the final report. Paleontology. Harrison & Smith, Minneapolis. pp. 761–812.
  • Flower, Rousseau H. 1955. Status of Endoceroid Classification. Journal of Paleontology 29: 329–371.
  • Haines, Tim, & Chambers, Paul. 2005. The Complete Guide to Prehistoric Life. BBC Books, London.
  • Sweet, Walter C. Cephalopoda--General Features in Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, Part K, Mollusca 3. Geological Society of America, and University of Kansas Press. Page K5.
  • Teichert, C. 1964. Endoceratoidea in Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, Part K, Mollusca 3. Geological Society of America, and University of Kansas Press. Page K174.
  • Teichert, C., and B. Kümmel 1960, Size of Endocerid Cephalopods; Breviora Mus. Comp. Zool. No. 128, 1–7.