Ammonites lived during the periods of Earth history known as the Jurassic and Cretaceous. Together, these represent a time interval of about 140 million years.
The Jurassic Period began about 201 million years ago, and the Cretaceous ended about 66 million years ago. The ammonites became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous Period, at roughly the same time as the dinosaurs disappeared.
However, we know a lot about them because they are commonly found as fossils, formed when the remains or traces of the animal became buried sediment that later solidified into rock.
Folklore and fact
Ammonites: the animal
Ammonites were marine animals belonging to the phylum Mollusca and the class Cephalopoda. They had a coiled external shell similar to that of the modern nautilus. In other living cephalopods, e.g. octopus, squid and cuttlefish, the shells are small and internal, or absent.