Ammonites are an extinct group of marine animals. Their closest living relative is probably not the modern Nautilus, whom they resemble, but rather the Subclass Coleoidea (octopus, squid, and cuttlefish). Their fossil shells take the form of flat spirals and are responsible for the animals name as they somewhat resemble a tightly coiled ram's horn (the god Ammon was commonly depicted as a man with ram's horns).
The Ammonites were present on the Earth for a period spanning over 140 million years. They first appeared on Earth some 208 million years ago, during the Carboniferous period. They evolved during the Mesozoic era into a variety of forms and were very abundant and widespread. The rapid evolution of the Ammonoids and their widespread distribution makes them a valuable tool when studying both the Paleozoic and Mesozoic periods. Large specimens were commonly up to one metre across and weighed up to 100 kg. The Ammonites became extinct about the same time that the majority of the dinosaurs disappeared. This is believed to be at the end of the Cretaceous Period, some 65 million years ago.
In medieval times, ammonites were believed to be petrified snakes. They were frequently fitted with carved snake-like heads and sold to pilgrims. Even today, tourists can buy ammonite fossils with heads carved onto them to make them look more snake-like. In India, ammonite fossils are identified with the god Vishnu and are used in various ceremonies.
The best samples of ammonites in Russia are found on the banks of Volga river, near the city of Ulianovsk (former Simbirsk), where a nice monument to the ammonite shell was built not long ago. Some of these samples display iridescence, in fact they are very close to the gem quality ammolite which is said to come only from Canada.
The ammonites are thought to be a symbol of family happiness and long life. They stimulate creativity, energy, wisdom, intellect and wealth, bring balance to a persons body and also to a persons surroundings.