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Article: The morphology of hyolithids and its functional implications

Publication: Palaeontology
Volume: 48
Part: 6
Publication Date: November 2005
Page(s): 1139 1167
Author(s): Mónica Martí Mus and Jan Bergström
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How to Cite

MUS, M., BERGSTRÖM, J. 2005. The morphology of hyolithids and its functional implications. Palaeontology, 48, 6, 1139–1167.

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The exceptionally preserved hyolithids Gompholites striatulus, Maxilites robustus, Maxilites snajdri and Maxilites sp. are described with particular emphasis on helen and muscle scar morphology. These two aspects of hyolithid morphology have remained controversial. In life position, each helen curved ventrally. When the operculum closed the aperture of the conch, each helen was locked at the commissure slit with its dorsal edge tilted forward. Inside the conch, it was held in the dorsal apertural plane and clear of the inner surface of the operculum. Previously unidentified muscle scars are described from both the operculum and the conch. Dorsal scars on the conch aperture held muscles directed to the operculum. Comparative study of the muscle insertion pattern indicates that hyolithids did not have serially arranged muscles and that all hyolithids may have had a common skeleto-muscular system. The arrangement of the muscle scars with respect to the helens suggests that the latter were capable of relatively complex movements and could have been used to propel the organism over the substrate. The general morphology and orientation of the helens suggests that in addition they functioned to stabilize the organism on the sea-floor.

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