Aldridge, R. J. Department of Geology, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom.
Briggs, Derek E. G. Department of Geology, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom.
Last reviewed:December 2019
- Skeletal apparatus
- Soft parts
- Biological affinities
- Geological applications
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A group of extinct marine animals that are often abundant in strata of Late Cambrian to Late Triassic age, a time span of about 300 million years. Only the mineralized elements, which are usually 0.2 to 2 mm (0.008 to 0.08 in.) in dimension (the largest known reach 14 mm or 0.6 in.), are normally preserved. They are routinely extracted as isolated discrete specimens by chemical degradation of the rock in which they occur. The apatite (calcium phosphate) of which conodont elements are composed is laid down as lamellae. In the earliest euconodonts (“true” conodonts, as opposed to the more primitive and possibly unrelated, protoconodonts and paraconodonts), the elements comprise an upper crown and a basal body. The basal body occupies a cavity in the base of the crown, but is not present in the majority of post-Devonian species. In advanced conodonts the crown incorporates regular patches of opaque, finely crystalline, white matter.
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