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Switzerland 2015 "Ammonite"

Issue Date 05.03.2015
ID Michel:    Scott:  Stanley Gibbons:   Yvert:   UPU:  N/A Category: pF
Author Christian Kitzmüller, Bülach (ZH)
Stamps in set 1
Value CHF 2 -  Colombiceras ammonite
Emmision commemorative
Size (width x height) 105mm x  70mm
Layout Block
Products FDC x1
Paper White stamp paper, with optical
Brightener, mat gummed, 110 gsm
Perforation 14
Print Technique

Offset, 4 colors

Printed by Gutenberg AG, Schaan, Liechtenstein
Issuing Authority La Poste
Ammonite fossil on stamp of Switzerland 2015

On 5 March 2015, Switzerland issued a 2-swiss franc souvenir sheet containing one irregularly shaped stamp depicting an ammonite fossil along with an image showing a reconstruction of how the creature may have appeared when it was living. Official press release, written by  Dr. Walter Etter Geoscience Curator Basel Natural History Museum  is below:
"When collectors go scouting in the fossil rich layers of the Swiss Jura mountains, they are usually looking for the beautiful spirally coiled ammonites. These fossils are the remains of creatures related to octopus and squid that first appeared around 400 million years ago, spread throughout the world’s oceans, then died out at the same time as the dinosaurs approximately 65 million years ago.   Ammonites had an outer shell like a snail, but the inner part of the shell had chambers of the kind we can still see today in the living pearly nautilus. The shell protected the soft parts of their anatomy, while air in the chambers created Ammonite post mark of Switzerland 2015buoyancy. The septa dividing the chambers were tightly folded at the edge, presumably making the shell better able to withstand water pressure. If the external shell is no longer present or is removed from  an ammonite, these folds are marked by ridges known as suture lines. We know that ammonites are more closely related to today’s squid and octopus  than the pearly nautilus. We are also familiar with the anatomy of ammonites’ jaws, know that they did not have ink sacs, that they are likely to have fed on small prey, and probably lived a largely hidden existence close to the sea floor. Many questions still remain unanswered, however. Did they have eight or ten tentacles, or perhaps up to 100 like the nautilus? Did their tentacles have suckers? Did the ammonites have powerful large eyes with lenses like living cephalopods? There were a huge variety of ammonites. It is estimated that almost 20,000 different species of ammonite existed, although spread over a period of some 335 million  years. There are ones with disc shaped and spherical shells, smooth and ribbed shells, as well as ones adorned with spines and tubercles. Each of these numerous types of ammonite existed for only a short period of time. Ammonites therefore make excellent “index fossils” which can be used to date geological strata. On the basis of its characteristic ribs, the ammonite depicted on the stamp is probably a Colombiceras, a species of ammonite that lived during the Cretaceous period around 120 million years ago."

However, Dr. Hans Ulrich ERNST, author of  some books about fossil on stamps, recognized the ammonite depicted on the stamp as Cheloniceras specie. The following pictures illustrate the differences.  
Colombiceras specie
Image from Ammonites.fr
Ammonite fossil  on the stamp
Cheloniceras specie
Image from Ammonites.fr

Distinguished from Colombiceras, fossils of Cheloniceras are not  found  in Switzerland, but mostly in  Morocco.  Moreover, on closer look on the fossil depicted on the stamp it is possible to see some kind  of artificial signs, defects on fins for example.  Very likely the ammonite  is drawn from sculptured ammonite that represent Cheloniceras specie from Lower Aptian strata at Agadir, Morocco. This kind or artificial fossils are common for Morocco
According to Mr. Dr. Ernst, the stamp designer  said that he had received this fossil  from a friend and he don't know it origin.  Pity that Swiss Post missed an opportunity to depict some real local fossil on their stamp and depict Moroccan art object instead.

Recommended Book"Nautilids and Ammonites worldwide The World of Cephalopods and their Reflection in Philately"

book Nautilids and Ammonites worldwide The World of Cephalopods and their Reflection in Philately
 "This book is intended for both philatelically interested persons and collectors of ammonites as well as nautilids. It gives an overview of all stamps, postmarks and postal stationeries displaying ammonoids, belemnites or nautiloids issued to date. A photograph and brief description of the morphology of the fossil featured, together with notes on its distribution are given to explain the philatelic material. We have endeavoured to show on the photograph the exact species represented wherever possible, but when such was not available, we used an image of a closely related species of the same genus.


Dr. med. Hans Ulrich ERNST, born 1949, studied medicine at Cologne and is now senior consultant of a specialized clinic for Orthopaedic Rehabilitation. Already as pupil he started collecting stamps and over the years he focused on fossil motives. Since several years he builds up a paleontological collection.

Dr. habil. Christian KLUG, born in 1969, studied geology and palaeontology at the University of Tübingen as well as at the Nothern Arizona University in Flagstaff. For his PhD thesis, he examined Devonian ammonoids from Morocco. After a scientific internship at the Stuttgart State Museum of Natural History, he began to work as research associate at the Palaeontological Institute and Museum of the University of Zürich, where he is still employed."  Pfeil-Verlag

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FDC  Used Cover
Ammonite fossil on stamp of Switzerland 2015
Ammonite fossil on stamp of Switzerland 2015
Official Souvenir Sheet Extra Souvenir Booklet, issued several months after  the stamp issue and in very limited quantity
Ammonite fossil on stamp of Switzerland 2015
Ammonite fossil on stamp of Switzerland 2015
Exhibition Sheet  and  special Cover produced for Exhibition in London

Acknowledge: Many thanks to Mr. Dr. Hans Ulrich ERNST for his hint about amonite specie.

References:   La Poste  Die Lupe (Focus on Stamps)  1/2015  4/2015 1/2016


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