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A giant conodont with preserved muscle fiber from the Upper Ordovician of South Africa

Author(s): Gabbott SE, Aldridge RJ, Theron RJ

Abstract

AN exceptionally preserved new specimen of the giant conodont Promissum pulchrum reveals details of the trunk musculature, feeding apparatus and eyes. High-fidelity resolution of ultrastruc-tural features of the trunk myomeres provides the first conclusive evidence of muscle-fibre organization and orientation in an extinct agnathan. The presence of fibrous extrinsic eye muscles confirms the degree of encephalization of the conodonts and is consistent with a cladistic position crownwards of the myxinoids. The soft tissues are uniquely preserved as illite and mixed-layer clay minerals.

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