Conodonts

Conodonts are extinct, eel-like vertebrates, mainly known from fossils of their phosphatic feeding apparatus. Whole animal fossils are extremely rare, making conodont morphology difficult to understand.

Teeth-like conodont microfossils are found in marine rocks such as limestones and shale. Extremely rare occurrences of the soft body indicate that conodonts had:

  • eyes
  • a notochord
  • muscle blocks on an eel-like body

Rare assemblages on shale surfaces suggest that conodonts were bilaterally symmetrical and had an array of teeth that were probably used for grasping and processing food.

Occurrence: 

Precambrian to late Triassic

Why study conodonts?

The abundance and diversity of phosphatic conodont fossils in Palaeozoic rocks makes them a useful dating tool.