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Conodonts were small, thin, elongate jawless creatures that were a common component of the marine fauna from the late Cambrian, throughout the Palaeozoic and into the Triassic. For the majority of conodont research history, speculations on conodont affinity were restricted to the histology and arrangement of their mineralized tissues—‘conodont elements’. These conodont elements comprise millimetre-scale phosphatic microfossils that superficially resemble teeth, and are commonly recovered from the residues of appropriately aged, disaggregated sedimentary rocks. It has only been in the last three decades, since the discovery of exceptionally preserved soft tissues, that the debate on conodont affinity has been refined, though it has hardly been less vigorously debated. Despite being studied extensively for over more than a century and a half, conodonts retain significant enigmatic qualities. Although many geologists today are familiar with the name, knowledge of conodont biology and ecology are often surprisingly lacking or confused, and conodonts remain as largely disembodied microfossil curiosities. Despite this, conodont elements are extensively and variously used in biostratigraphy, thermal maturation studies and palaeoenvironmental reconstructions, while conodonts themselves occupy a potentially critical position in the evolutionary tree of our own phylum—the chordates.
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Diagenetic alteration of the structure and δ18O signature of Palaeozoic fish and conodont apatite: Potential use for corrected isotope signatures in palaeoenvironmental interpretationBarham, Milo; Joachimski, M.; Murray, J.; Williams, D. (2012)The oxygen isotopic compositions of Carboniferous conodonts and fish microfossils (ichthyoliths), from identical samples, were analysed in tandem in order to test whether these phosphatic media can be reliably used for ...
Assessing the fidelity of marine vertebrate microfossil δ18O signatures and their potential for palaeo-ecological and -climatic reconstructionsRoelofs, B.; Barham, M.; Cliff, J.; Joachimski, M.; Martin, L.; Trinajstic, Katherine (2017)Conodont biogenic apatite has become a preferred analytical target for oxygen isotope studies investigating ocean temperature and palaeoclimate changes in the Palaeozoic. Despite the growing application in geochemically-based ...
Sevastopulo, G.; Barham, Milo (2013)The Task Group charged with proposing the GSSP for the base of the Serpukhovian Stage (Mississippian, Lower Carboniferous) is likely to use the global First Appearance Datum (FAD) of the conodont Lochriea ziegleri in the ...