Well-preserved ammonite shells have always fascinated the observer – especially when the shell was “decorated” with one or more rows of decorative knots. Often, however, these knots were originally topped with spines of varying lengths, which gave the shell a bizarre appearance and may have served to protect the animal from attackers.

Only in recent years, thanks to the refinement of preparation methods, has it been possible in individual cases to free these spines from the surrounding rock intact.

But who is willing and has the patience to sit in front of a microscope for 100 hours or more to work out these filigree structures one tenth of a millimeter at a time? One wrong move, a little too much pressure on the preparation needle and the spine is broken off and often irretrievably lost.

This means that spined ammonites such as those exhibited here are not only masterpieces of evolution, but also masterpieces of the art of fossil preparation.