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


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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Gabbott, S., Aldridge, R. & Theron, J. A giant conodont with preserved muscle tissue from the Upper Ordovician of South Africa. Nature 374, 800–803 (1995).

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