Swiss Journal of Palaeontology

, Volume 138, Issue 1, pp 65–85 | Cite as

High-level classification of the nautiloid cephalopods: a proposal for the revision of the Treatise Part K

  • Andy H. KingEmail author
  • David H. Evans
Regular Research Article


High-level classification of the nautiloid cephalopods has been largely neglected since the publication of the Russian and American treatises in the early 1960s. Although there is broad general agreement amongst specialists regarding the status of nautiloid orders, there is no real consensus or consistent approach regarding higher ranks and an array of superorders utilising various morphological features has been proposed. With work now commencing on the revision of the Treatise Part K, there is an urgent need for a methodical and standardised approach to the high-level classification of the nautiloids. The scheme proposed here utilizes the form of muscle attachment scars as a diagnostic feature at subclass level; other features (including siphuncular structures and cameral deposits) are employed at ordinal level. We recognise five subclasses of nautiloid cephalopods (Plectronoceratia, Multiceratia, Tarphyceratia nov., Orthoceratia, Nautilia) and 18 orders including the Order Rioceratida nov. which contains the new family Bactroceratidae. This scheme has the advantage of relative simplicity (it avoids the use of superorders) and presents a balanced approach which reflects the considerable morphological diversity and phylogenetic longevity of the nautiloids in comparison with the ammonoid and coleoid cephalopods. To avoid potential confusion arising in the higher levels of nautiloid classification employed in the revision of the Treatise Part K, we propose herein to replace the suffix ‘-oidea’ at subclass level with the suffix ‘-ia’. Apart from removing ambiguity and clarifying the nomenclature, this approach also brings greater consistency and affinity with modern zoological classification schemes used for cephalopods. The original Treatise Part K adopted an ‘abbreviated’ form of name for nautiloid orders using the ending ‘-cerida’ rather than ‘-ceratida’ (e.g., Order Actinocerida rather than Actinoceratida). For the revision of Treatise Part K, we propose using the ‘full’ version of the ordinal names. This approach re-employs several order names in their original form, e.g., Ellesmeroceratida, Oncoceratida, and Tarphyceratida. For reasons of consistency, we also apply the same to ordinal names created since the original Treatise Part K; therefore, Order Bisonocerida becomes Bisonoceratida.


Classification Plectronoceratia Multiceratia Tarphyceratia Nautilia Orthoceratia Treatise 



We are grateful to many nautiloid specialists for their time and detailed discussions regarding the merits or otherwise of various systematic schemes we considered during the evolution and compilation of this paper. We particularly wish to thank Kathleen Histon (Valganna), Marcela Cichowolski (Buenos Aires) and colleagues based in Prague (Martina Aubrechtová, Štěpán Manda and Vojtěch Turek). We are also grateful to the following for their helpful advice and suggestions regarding wider classification of cephalopods relating to our proposal and the revision of the Treatise Part K: Alexander Pohle (Zurich), Christian Klug (Zurich), Dirk Fuchs (Munich), Kenneth De Baets (Erlangen), Larissa Doguzhaeva (Stockholm), Neil Landman (New York), Peter Ward (Seattle), René Hoffmann (Bochum) and Stijn Goolaerts (Brussels). We also thank Mikhail Rogov (Moscow) for very kindly supplying sets of Russian references and the two reviewers for their very constructive and helpful comments. However, the final views expressed here are solely those of the authors.

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© Akademie der Naturwissenschaften Schweiz (SCNAT) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geckoella LtdTauntonUK
  2. 2.Natural EnglandBridgwaterUK

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