Cephalopod shells can be affected by postmortem transport and biostratigraphic condensation, but direct estimates of the temporal and spatial resolutions of cephalopod assemblages are missing. Amino acid racemisation calibrated by 14C demonstrates a centennial-scale time averaging (<500 years) of Nautilus macromphalus in sediment-starved, epi- and mesobathyal pelagic environments. The few shells that are thousands of years old are highly degraded. The median occurrence of dead shells is at 445 m depth, close to the 300–400 m depth where living N. macromphalus are most abundant. Therefore, dead shells of this species accumulate at a centennial temporal resolution and with excellent bathymetric fidelity. Dead Nautilus shells exist for only a few hundred years on the seafloor, in contrast to the biostratigraphically condensed mixture of extant foraminifers and foraminifers that went extinct during the Pleistocene. Cephalopod shells that do not show any signs of early diagenetic cementation are unlikely to be biostratigraphically condensed.
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