Presence of the earliest vertebrate hard tissue in conodonts

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Science  29 May 1992:
Vol. 256, Issue 5061, pp. 1308-1311
DOI: 10.1126/science.1598573


From histological investigations into the microstructure of conodont elements, a number of tissue types characteristic of the phosphatic skeleton of vertebrates have been identified. These include cellular bone, two forms of hypermineralized enamel homologs, and globular calcified cartilage. The presence of cellular bone in conodont elements provides unequivocal evidence for their vertebrate affinities. Furthermore, the identification of vertebrate hard tissues in the oral elements of conodonts extends the earliest occurrence of vertebrate hard tissues back by around 40 million years, from the Middle Ordovician (475 million years ago) to the Late Cambrian (515 million years ago).