Eeleganza - the Conodont Element Print

It's hard to say what my favorite thing about conodonts is. These fossils are known mostly from their microscopic teeth (called elements), which are so distinct that you can use them to tell how old a rock is. But they also change color with heat so you can use them to understand how squished a rock has been. Buuuuut I think if pressed, my favorite thing about these weird little teeth is that all paleoartists draw them open mouthed and screaming.

Conodont Hindeodus Reconstruction.jpg

See, what we know about the actual animal itself is pretty limited. They're very useful little fossils for the 200 million years they were alive, but most of their body was soft and didn't preserve. So what we know about the animal is that conodonts probably had a lot of these little teeth in their mouths, were eel-shaped and related to things like lampreys and hagfish, didn't have jaws, and appear to have maybe had enormous eyes. Gorgeous, I know - but with these facts combined the paleoart for conodonts is hilarious.

If considered in isolation, the dental elements of conodonts truly are quite pretty. They're strange little star and spoon shapes, both familiar and foreign to the average person. Together, they make one of my favorite prints on the site - to the regular observer they're just a casually interesting shape, and only you know that you're wearing the primordial fangs of the original gape-mouthed shrieking eel. 

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