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The detailed effects of diagenetic flattening on the graptolitc rhabdosomc have been investigated experimentally. The initial procedure, to test the effects of flattening on cylinders constructed from a variety of semi-brittle to plastic materials when compressed in a plaster ‘matrix’, demonstrates that a degree of rigidity is necessary to prevent lateral spread on diagenetic compression, even when lateral confining pressures are present. A second experiment demonstrates conclusively that the effects of flattening on the thecal style of Dicellograptus complanatus proposed by Briggs & Williams (1981; Lethaia 14) can be simulated. A model of an aseptate diplograptid produced a median depression when compressed but no preservational ‘median septum’, which is considered to be produced in several diplograptid taxa. It is shown that some diplograptids spread laterally along a median line when flattened in scalariform orientation although this has not yet been achieved experimentally owing to the high degree of compression required. □Graptolithina, diagenesis, flattening,