Data from: Wear, tear and systematic repair: testing models of growth dynamics in conodonts with high-resolution imaging
Shirley, Bryan; Grohganz, Madleen; Bestmann, Michel; Jarochowska, Emilia (2018), Data from: Wear, tear and systematic repair: testing models of growth dynamics in conodonts with high-resolution imaging, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.5q9q697
Conodont elements are the earliest mineralised vertebrate dental tools and the only ones capable of extensive repair. Two models of conodont growth, as well as the presence of a larval stage, have been hypothesised. We analysed normally and pathologically developed elements to test these hypotheses and identified three ontogenetic stages characterised by different anisometric growth and morphology. The distinction of these stages is independently corroborated by differences in tissue strontium content. The onset of the last stage is marked by the appearance of wear resulting from mechanical food digestion. At least five episodes of damage and repair could be identified in the normally developed specimen. In the pathological element, function was compromised by development of abnormal denticles. This development can be reconstructed as addition of new growth centres out of the main growth axis during an episode of renewed growth. Our findings support the model of periodic retraction of elements and addition of new growth centres. Changes in strontium content coincident with distinct morphology and lack of wear in the early life stage indicate that conodonts might have assumed their mature feeding habit of predators or scavengers after an initial larval stage characterised by a different feeding mode.