The Chitinozoa are flask- or bottle-shaped, hollow organic vesicles of uncertain affinity. Appearing first in the Early Ordovician, they evolved rapidly through the Palaeozoic Era. The majority became extinct at the end of the Devonian Period. Although Chitinozoa have been reported from the Carboniferous and Permian, these records are considered suspect or may include reworked specimens. Chitinozoa are commonly associated with acritarchs, scolecodonts and graptolites in mudstones and siltstones. Chitinozoan walls are resistant to oxidation, thermal alteration, tectonism and recrystalliza-tion of the rock matrix. Indeed, chitinozoans may be the only organic fossils recognizable in some rocks (such as slates) and from this derives their particular value to biostratigraphy and thermal maturity studies.
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