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The belemnites evolved from nautiloids, which are the basal group of cephalopods.
Well-formed belemnite guards can be found in rocks dating from the Mississippian (or Lower Carboniferous).
Like some modern squid, belemnite arms carried a series of small hooks for grabbing prey.
Belemnites were efficient carnivores that caught small fish and other marine animals with their arms and ate them with their beak-like jaws.
In turn, belemnites appear to have formed part of the diet of marine reptiles such as Ichthyosaurs, whose fossilized stomachs frequently contain hooks from the arms of cephalopods. Fossils which preserve the soft parts of belemnites show that, like many modern cephalopods, they had an ink sac, hard beaks, tail fins and large eyes.
Well-preserved specimens show evidence of muscular fibers in the mantle, indicating that they were powerful swimmers like modern squids.
In 1826 Mary Anning discovered what appeared to be a chamber containing dried ink inside a belemnite fossil.