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Trends Ecol Evol. 1996 Nov;11(11):463-8.

The conodont controversies.

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  • 1Richard Aldridge and Mark Purnell are at the Dept of Geology, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK LEI 7RH.


The discovery of fossilized conodont soft tissues has led to suggestions that these enigmatic animals were among the earliest vertebrates and that they were macrophagous, using their oropharyngeal skeletal apparatus to capture and process prey. These conclusions have proved controversial. There is now a consensus that conodonts belong within the chordates, but their position within the clade is hotly debated. Resolution of these questions has major implications for our understanding of the origin of the vertebrates and the selective pressures that led to the development of the vertebrate skeleton.

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