Conodonts

(see posts like this on my Patreon one week earlier)

Partly this came from a conversation we’ve been having at the Spec Evo forum, and partly from some musings I’ve been having on the random aspects of evolution. More on randomness next time.  For now, I give you a delicious array of conodonts.

Conodonts were jawless fishes that lived until about 200 million years ago. They used comb-like teeth of hydroxyapatite (the major component of both teeth and bones) to filter plankton out of water, and perhaps to grab, slice, or crush prey as well. Above, you see how I squashed conodonts into different niches first, and then I figured out what their evolutionary relationships might be.

Starting at the top we have:

Gray: ancestral filter-feeder similar to real fossil conodonts

Teal: pelagic pursuit-predator

Green: bottom-feeder

Orange: large, cruising filter-feeder

Red: pelagic apex predator, feeding on small vertebrates

Violet: benthic ambush-predator

Indigo: large shell-fish specialist

Blue: small shell-fish specialist

Yellow: small invertebrate-feeder, uses conodont elements on evertile tissue for defense

Chartreuse: small invertebrate-feeder, uses evertile tissue for prey-capture

Violet2: benthic shell-fish specialist

Tune in next time, for my next step. Which clade do you hope will have the most babies?

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