Abstract

The following differences were found between the members of the cornulitids, Cornulites and Conchicolites. Both genera have egg-shaped embryonic shells, which presumably calcified after the settling of larva to the substrate, but the embryonic shells in Cornulites are larger than in Conchicolites. Cornulites has a regularly foliated shell ultrastructure and pseudopuncta, whereas the shell ultrastructure in Conchicolites is prismatic. In Cornulites the outer part of the shell contains numerous vesicular cavities that were never observed to cross the interspaces of the surface annulae, indicating cyclic shell secretion. In several species the vesicles are internally coated by calcitic lamellae that are oriented subparallel to the shell surface. In Conchicolites the vesicular shell structure is absent and the calcitic prisms are deposited at the shell aperture more or less at right angles to the longitudinal shell axis. The function of the surface annulae in Cornulites and transverse ridges in Conchicolites may have been to strengthen the shell wall and protect it against longitudinally developing cracks. Vesicular structure in Cornulites seems to have provided a stronger shell for less material and smaller cost of energy. Differences between Cornulites and Conchicolites indicate that the two taxa were probably unrelated and that cornulitids may be a polyphyletic taxon. Cornulites shares the most characters with the lophoporates and tentaculitids. Biological affinities of Conchicolites are controversial, and its morphologic features need further revision to affiliate this group with certainty to any extant animal phylum.

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