Briggs, D.E.G, Kear, A.J, Baas, M, Leeuw, J.W and Rigby, S (1995) 'Decay and composition of the hemichordate Rhabdopleura: implications for the taphonomy of graptolites.' Lethaia, 28 (1). pp. 15-23. ISSN 0024-1164

Official URL:


Although the graptolites lacked biomineralised tissue, their skeletons are abundantly preserved in deeper-water mudstones. Decay experiments and observations on the closely related living hemichordate Rhabdopleura demonstrate that the periderm and stolon are highly resistant to decay, remaining intact for months, whereas the zooids are unrecognizable within days. The extreme rarity of the preservation of traces of the zooids in graptoloids reflects their planktic lifestyle; the zooids had normally decayed before burial. Curie-point-gas-chromatography (Py-GC) and Curie-point-gas-chromatography-mass spectrometry (Py-GC-MS) of the periderm of Rhabdopleura confirms that proteinaceous organic matter is a major constituent. Ultrastructurally preserved graptolite periderm (Ordovician, Oklahoma; Silurian, Arctic Canada), on the other hand, is a highly altered kerogen-like substance rich in aliphatic biomacromolecules. The composition of the preserved graptolite periderm reflects diagenetic replacement by components probably mainly derived from algal cell walls.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Chancelry
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2018 23:25
Last Modified: 07 Jan 2018 23:25
Request a change to this item or report an issue Request a change to this item or report an issue
Update item (repository staff only) Update item (repository staff only)