Finite-element analysis of circular septum models indicates that (1) anticlastic fluting weakened the last septa of the same radius of curvature by a factor of about 2.5 relative to the tensile stresses in a sphere of nacre, (2) septa with ammonitic sutures were stronger than those with goniatitic sutures of the same thickness, and (3) septa with more “complex” ammonitic sutures were stronger at the edge between lobes and saddles than “simple” ones. These results contradict recent claims that ammonoid septa became weaker as sutural complexity increased from goniatitic through ammonitic, so that the most complex sutures were limited to the shallowest habitats. The smaller marginal flutes of complex septa were relatively strong, allowing them to be thinner than the central septum and still act as elastic wall supports. Many Mesozoic ammonoids with highly sinuous sutures occurred in deep epeiric and open-ocean habitats, whereas it is those with secondarily reduced, ceratitic sutures that were typically associated with restricted shallow basins.

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