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The conodont animal

Author(s): Briggs DEG, Clarkson ENK, Aldridge RJ

Abstract

A unique specimen of a small, elongate, soft-bodied animal from the Lower Carboniferous of the Edinburgh district, Scotland, is described. The head expands anteriorly into two lobate structures flanking a central lumen; behind this lies a conodont apparatus, apparently in situ, consisting of an aligned set of ramiform elements followed by a pair of ozarkodiniform elements and one of platform elements. From the morphology of the platform elements the animal has been identified as Clydagnathus? cf. cavusformis. Repeated structures which may represent segments are evident in the posterior part of the trunk, which bears a posterior and a caudal fin, each supported by rays. The animal shows similarities to both chordates and chactognaths, but the evidence supports its assignment to a separate phylum, the Conodonta. The function of the conodonts remains equivocal, but it seems more likely that they served as teeth than as internal supports.

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