The conodonts are a mysterious group of organisms that became extinct at the end of the Triassic. Only their tiny mouth elements, teeth-like fossils measuring from 0.1 to 4 mm, were known until the discovery of the first complete skeleton in 1983. Thanks to additional discoveries it is now believed that conodont animals were fish-like vertebrates of 5-10 cm body length, similar to today’s lampreys. In the bituminous shales of the Besano Formation at Monte San Giorgio, different types of conodont elements were found in so-called clusters, the first to be noted anywhere from the Triassic.

Mouth elements of a conodont cluster of Monte San Giorgio, © PIMUZ / N. Goudemand