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Hyolitha (Hyoliths)

      Hyolitha are enigmatic animals with small conical shells known from the Palaeozoic Era. The calcareous shells have a cover (operculum) and two curved supports known as helens. Most are one to four centimeters in length and are triangular or elliptical in cross section. Some species have rings or stripes. Because hyoliths are extinct and do not obviously resemble any extant group, it is unclear which living group they are most closely related to. They may be molluscs; authors who suggest that they deserve their own phylum do not comment on the position of this phylum in the tree of life.Fossil traces showing a twisted, looped, intestine bear some resemblance to the gut of sipunculan worms. Despite the fact that hyolithid shells are common as fossils, little is known about their ancestry, internal structures, and life mode. They were probably benthic (bottom-dwellers). The first hyolith fossils appeared about 540 million years ago in the Purella antiqua Zone of the Nemakit-Daldynian Stage of Siberia and in its analogue the Paragloborilus subglobosusPurella squamulosa Zone of the Meishucunian Stage of China. Hyolith abundance and diversity attain a maximum in the Cambrian, followed by a progressive decline up to their Permian extinction.

Img. 94:
Maxilites PP706
Maxilites SZ197
Maxilites M11887
Maxilites PP705
Maxilites VL62
Maxilites YA884
Maxilites M1170
Maxilites SZ57
Maxilites PP699
Maxilites PP702
Maxilites VK36
Maxilites SM283
Maxilites XA794
Maxilites SZ183
Maxilites YA969
Maxilites M1160
Maxilites VL1541
Maxilites M2225
Maxilites YA270
Maxilites YA989

Virtual museum of the Czech Geological Survey,, (C) Czech Geological Survey, 2011, v.0.99 [13.12.2011]