Ammonite (W3)Die "Ammoniten" verdanken ihre Bezeichnung dem gewundenen Gehörn des schafsköpfigen ägyptischen Gott "Ammon".
Die Bezeichnung dt. "Ammonit", frz. "ammonite" (1752; Breyn, 1732 ?), engl. "ammonite" (1758, "cephalopod mollusk"), lat. zool. "ammonites" (1842-1846), für "ausgestorbene Kopffüßer der Kreidezeit" und deren spiralförmige Versteinerungen, nimmt Bezug auf lat. "cornu Ammonis", "Ammonis cornu", "Hammonis cornua" = dt. "Ammonshorn", frz. "corne d'Ammon", engl. "horn of Ammon", und weiter auf den ägyptischen "Gott des Lebens" "Ammon", "Amun, "Jupiter Ammon", dessen Kennzeichen Widderhörner sind. Die Gestalt des Kalkgehäuses gleicht einem Widderhorn.
Die Zeitangaben differieren etwas. So soll der zoologische Begriff - nach einer anderen Quelle - im Jahr 1789 von dem französischen Zoologen Jean Guillaume Bruguière (c.1750-1798) eingeführt worden sein.
"Amun" ("Amon", "Ammon"), ägyptischer Gott; ursprünglich Stadtgott von Theben, wurde er mit Thebens Aufstieg Reichsgott und Götterkönig (ägyptische Religion). Nach dem Verfall Thebens blühte sein Kult in Äthiopien und den Oasen fort. Den Griechen und Römern war "Amun" als Gott der Oase Siwa vertraut, sie setzten ihn mit "Zeus" beziehungsweise "Jupiter" gleich.
- Ambulyx rostralis --> Ammonites boucaultianus
- Ammonites bouchardianus --> Ammonites cordatus
- Ammonites cordatus --> Ammonites funatus
- Ammonites galdrinus --> Ammonites laeviusculus
- Ammonites lafresnayanus --> Ammonites nutfieldensis
- Ammonites obtusus --> Ammonites rotiformis
- Ammonites rotiformis --> Ammonites thouarsensis
- Ammonites tortilis --> Amphotis marginata
ORIGIN OF "AMMONITE"
1700–10; - New Latin "Ammonites" - Medieval Latin "(cornu) Ammon(is)" (literally, "horn of Ammon") + "-ites" - "ite"; fossil so called from its resemblance to the "horn of Jupiter Ammon"
Of gods and dung: the origins of "ammonia"
Scientists know ammonia as: NH3
Well, in a manner of speaking. Or writing. The story of the word "ammonia" is one of modern science and ancient history - and of camel dung and supreme deities.
Swedish chemist Torbern Bergman coined "ammonia" in 1782 when he identified the substance as the gas that can be obtained from "sal ammoniac". Previously, "ammonia" was called "spirit of hartshorn" in English, as it was distilled from the nitrogen-laden horns and hooves of animals, which is much more pleasant than other sources of the chemical.
Literally meaning "salt of Ammon", "sal ammoniac" is a crystalline salt which was once derived from the dung of camels, apparently. (And you thought "ammonia" smelled bad.) Ancient Libya had a shrine to "Jupiter Ammon". Worshippers would hitch their camels to pay their respects as they passed through the area, known as "Ammonia". Meanwhile, their camels would pour their own libations: chemically rich excrement. Enterprising, and adventurous, individuals collected the soiled sands to produce "sal ammoniac".
Following their conquest of Northern Africa, the Romans mapped their king of the gods, "Jupiter", onto an Egyptian supreme deity, "Amun". The Greeks rendered "Amun" as "Ammon", which the Romans adapted for "Jupiter Ammon".
"Amun" was often depicted with a ram's horn, which paleontologists later thought resembled the spiraling shells of an extinct mollusk, the "ammonite". The name "Amun", whose hieroglyph is featured above, may derive from a word meaning "invisible" or "hidden" - not unlike the very gas in which his name surprisingly lives on.
"ammonite", noun (1): any of a subclass ("Ammonoidea") of extinct cephalopods especially abundant in the Mesozoic age that had flat spiral shells with the interior divided by septa into chambers
"Ammonite", noun (2): a member of a Semitic people who in Old Testament times lived east of the Jordan between the Jabbok and the Arnon
Noun (1): New Latin "ammonites", from Latin "cornu Ammonis", literally, "horn of Ammon"
Noun (2): Late Latin "Ammonites", from Hebrew "'Ammon" "Ammon" (son of Lot), descendant of "Ammon"
First Known Use:
Noun (1): 1726, in the meaning defined above
Noun (2): 1530, in the meaning defined above
Limericks on "ammonite"
Limericks on "ammonite shell"
We were discussing "nitrogen" the other day. Not the gaseous element, you understand, just the word. The Greek-derived suffix "–gen" means "begetter of" so the other "–gen" elements are easy to understand. When it burns, "hydrogen" forms "water" (Greek "hydros") hence "hydro-gen" ("begetter of water"). Similarly "oxygen" reacts with metals to form "acidic oxides" (Greek "oxy-", "sharp", "sour"). So we were hardly surprised to discover that "nitrogen" is named for its ability to “beget” "nitre". What did surprise us was the identity of "nitre". Or should we say identities?
"Nitre" has something of a split personality. Its usual meaning "potassium nitrate", also called "saltpeter", but the original meaning of "nitre" was "naturally occurring sodium carbonate", a mineral compound which has no connection to "nitrogen" whatever. It does, however, have the alternative name of "natron" and this, presumably is where the confusion with "nitre" crept in.
Note that "natron" is a sodium compound. This helps explain why the chemical symbol for sodium is "Na", not "So". The word "sodium" was invented by the English chemist Michael Faraday who extracted the element from "soda".
"Saltpeter" (or "saltpetre" in the British spelling) is one of those fascinating words which carry evidence of a misunderstanding. In Middle English it was "salpetre" (presumably from medieval Latin "sal petrae" or "salt of stone") but the first syllable of this colorless crystalline substance was just too similar to "salt" for English-speakers to leave undefiled.
One of the simplest nitrogen-containing substances is "ammonia", which gets its name from the main ingredient in smelling salts – "sal ammoniac". (Funny, you’d think it would be the other way around, wouldn’t you?) "Sal ammoniac" gets its name from an area of Lybia called "Ammonia" (Latin, "salt of Ammonia" – note that capital letter). The region took its name from a famous temple of "Jupiter Ammon" – a syncretic deity who combined aspects of the Roman "Jupiter" and the Ammonite Egyptian god "Ammon". The substance "ammonia" (not the place "Ammonia") was also known as "spirits of hartshorn" as it was once distilled from the hoofs and horns of animals. It is a strong alkali and, due to its origins was known as animal alkali as distinct from vegetable alkali (potash) and from mineral alkali (soda).
This brings us to the term "alkali" itself. From the Arabic "al-kali" = "the ashes" it neatly parallels the English word "potash" (literally "ashes from a pot"). Again we see the origin of a disparity between the name of an element ("potassium", from "potash") and its symbol – in this case "K", from "kali" ("ashes").
And before we leave the Egyptian god "Ammon", we should mention another etymological curiosity. You see, according to Egyptian belief, "Ammon" had the body of a man but the head of a ram. And when the inhabitants of ancient North Africa found certain fossils which curled in a flat spiral they said that they were the discarded "horns of the god Ammon". For that matter, so do we, in a manner of speaking. We call them "ammonites".
Tens of millions of years later, in the much more recent past, the ancient Egyptians and Kushites worshipped the god "Amun", whom they depicted as having either the head or sometimes just the horns of a ram. The Greeks and Romans later came to worship this god, calling him "Ammon" and identifying him with their god "Zeus" / "Iupiter". They identified fossilized "ammonite shells" as resembling "Ammon’s horns" and consequently believed that they were a kind of sacred stone with the power to induce prophetic dreams. It is from the name "Ammon" that "ammonites" have received their modern common and scientific names. Read on to learn more about this fascinating ancient deity and his connection to prehistoric fossils!
Pliny the Elder on ammonite fossils
When the ancient Greeks and Romans encountered fossilized "ammonites", they interpreted them as a type of sacred stone with special powers because they resembled the "horns of Ammon". The ancient Roman writer Pliny the Elder (lived c. 23 – 79 CE) references "ammonite fossils" in his encyclopedic work Natural History 37.40.167. He calls them by the name "Hammonis cornua", which means "horns of Ammon", and describes them as a sacred stone found in Aethiopia (i.e., Kush) that is said to cause people to experience prophetic dreams.
How "ammonites" received their modern name
Pliny the Elder’s Natural History became possibly the most influential text on early modern geology, botany, zoology, and taxonomy. Consequently, during the Renaissance, intellectual writers such as the German humanist scholar and mineralogist Georgius Agricola (lived 1494 – 1555) and the Swiss physician and naturalist Conrad Gessner (lived 1516 – 1565) adopted Pliny the Elder’s name "Hammonis cornua" to describe "fossilized ammonites".
Later naturalists realized that what Pliny had understood as rocks were already the fossilized remains of a primordial subclass of cephalopods. The German naturalist Johann Philipp Breyne applied the Latin name "Ammonites" to this subclass in his "Dissertatio Physica de Polythalamiis" (Physical Dissertation on Polythalamians [Many-Chambered Mollusks]), published in 1732, in chapter four on page 20.
The French taxonomer Jean Guillaume Bruguière (lived 1749 – 1798) popularized this name and, in 1884, the German paleontologist Karl Alfred von Zittel coined the scientific name "Ammonoidea" for the subclass to which "ammonites" belong.
[From Late Latin "Ammonites", the Ammonites, from Hebrew "'ammônî", Ammonite, from "'ammôn", Ammon, perhaps of Canaanite origin; see "?mm" in Semitic roots.]
[New Latin "Ammonites", from Latin "(cornu) Ammonis", "(horn) of Amun", "ammonite", genitive of "Ammon", "Amun", from Greek : from Egyptian "jmn".]
[C18: from New Latin "Ammonites", from Medieval Latin "cornu Ammonis", literally: "horn of Ammon"]
[1700–10; - New Latin "Ammonites" = Medieval Latin "(cornu) Ammon(is)" literally, "horn of Ammon" + "-ites" = "-ite"]
"Ammoniten" (griech., "Ammonshörner", hierzu Tafel "Ammoniten"), eine Gruppe ausgestorbener Tintenschnecken, mit gekammerten Schalen, den Nautiliden der Gegenwart verwandt. Das Tier bewohnte nur die vorderste Kammer, stand aber mit den hintern durch eine in Kalkwände eingeschlossene Röhre (Sipho) in Verbindung. Die leeren Kammern faßt man gewöhnlich als Schwimmapparat auf; sie sollten beim Auf- und Absteigen von Bedeutung sein, doch fehlt es auch nicht an Andeutungen dafür, daß die "Ammoniten" als träge Tiere in der Tiefe der Meere lebten. Bezüglich des innern Baues dürfte uns Nautilus einigen Aufschluß geben. In der vordern Kammer findet sich sehr häufig der Aptychus (s. Tafel "Juraformation II", /Bd. 1, S. 446/ Fig. 11), der in seiner Bedeutung zweifelhaft und noch am ehesten für einen Schalendeckel der "Ammoniten" zu halten ist. Er besteht meist aus einer zweiteiligen Kalkschale, seltener bildet er eine aus einem Stück bestehende Hornschale (Anaptychus). Die "Ammoniten" zeigen sehr verschiedene Größe, von wenigen Zentimetern bis zu der eines Wagenrades (Pachydiscus Seppenradensis 2,5 m Durchmesser). In manchen Schichten sind sie außerordentlich häufig und wichtige Leitfossilien. Die Anheftungsstelle der Scheidewand an die Innenfläche der Schale, die Suturlinie, ist bei abgesprengter Schale, also an Steinkernen, besonders deutlich; ihr Verlauf hat für die Systematik der "Ammoniten" große Bedeutung erlangt. An ihnen zeigt sich schön die mit der Zeit fortschreitende Entwickelung von einfachen zu kompliziertern Formen: bei den ältesten (Goniatiten) verlaufen sie einfach, bogen- oder zickzackförmig, im Muschelkalk herrschen die Ceratiten mit kompliziertern Bildungen vor, und zuletzt, vom Lias an, hauptsächlich aber in Jura und Kreide treten die "Ammoniten" im engern Sinn ("Ammonshörner") auf. Diese sind spiralförmig gewunden und haben Windungen, die einander berühren oder umfassen. Die Tafel zeigt einige besonders schöne Formen. Man teilt die "Ammoniten" in etwa 15 Familien und unterscheidet nahe an 100 Gattungen. Von diesen sind zu nennen: Goniatites (s. Tafel "Devonische Formation II" und "Steinkohlenformation II"), "Ammonites" (s. Tafel "Juraformation II"), Ceratites u. Trachyceras (s. Tafel "Triasformation I"), Crioceras, Toxoceras, Ancyloceras, Turrilites, Baculites (s. Tafel "Kreideformation I").
Origin of Ammonite
From Late Latin "Ammonites" = "the Ammonites" from Hebrew "‘ammônî" = "Ammonite" from "‘ammôn" = "Ammon" perhaps of Canaanite origin "?mm" in Semitic roots
New Latin "Ammonites" from Latin "(cornu) Ammonis" = "(horn) of Amun", "ammonite" genitive of "Ammon", "Amun2 from Greek from Egyptian "jmn"
French "ammonite", from Latin "ammonis (cornua)" = "(horns of) Ammon".
Abfrage im Google-Corpus mit 15Mio. eingescannter Bücher von 1500 bis heute.
Engl. "Ammonite" taucht in der Literatur um das Jahr 1640 / 1700 auf.