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Article: Preservation of soft tissues in Silurian graptolites from Latvia

Publication: Palaeontology
Volume: 47
Part: 3
Publication Date: May 2004
Page(s): 503 513
Author(s): David K. Loydell, Patrick J. Orr and Stuart Kearns
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How to Cite

LOYDELL, D. K., ORR, P. J., KEARNS, S. 2004. Preservation of soft tissues in Silurian graptolites from Latvia. Palaeontology47, 3, 503–513.

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The contractile stalks of graptoloid zooids are preserved as organic carbon residues in thecae of the middle Llandovery graptoloid graptolites Rastrites geinitzii and Neolagarograptus? sp. from the Aizpute-41 core, Latvia. The contractile stalks are surrounded by equant pyrite crystals, resulting in three-dimensional preservation of the graptolite rhabdosomes, and are associated with sediment of similar composition to, and derived from, the adjacent matrix. Matrix entered the thecae after pyrite crystal growth and filled some of the space left by collapse of the contractile stalks and some intercrystalline cavities; other space is partially infilled by diagenetic minerals. The contractile stalks are parallel-sided and occupy up to one-half the metathecal width, which is not inconsistent, assuming post-mortem shrinkage, with the suggestion that graptoloid zooids filled their thecal tubes in life. The location of the preserved soft tissues, towards the distal ends of the metathecae, is very different from that predicted by decay experiments on the extant pterobranch hemichordate Rhabdopleura; the latter's soft tissues may thus not be a reliable analogue for those of these Silurian graptoloids.
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