6.  Variation of individuals within a single species
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Subtle changes in structure with size can give information about the way conodonts grew into maturity.  Studying wear patterns may give clues about the environment in which they lived.

Each appears to have a primary recurved cusp in the center of a flat, curled denticle row.  The most anterior of these denticles is enlarged into a recurved secondary cusp that only slightly smaller than the primary.  Typically three denticles to four denticles seperate the two cusps, and the denticles on either side of the primary cusp are somewhat enlarged.   In most cases the blade is quite flat, but sometimes the anterior denticle is slightly rotated laterally out of the plane of the rest of the blade.  Some of the stoutest cusps appear to be broken off shortest -- a suggestion that they broke during normal wear during the animal's life.  A review of literature suggests the above collection actually contains elements falling into three different types -- each subtly different according to its position in the mouth apparatus.

Page established 12-28-2000, updated 1-5-2001 -- copyright Jim Davison
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