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Close-up with a fossil: The crinoid

Updated Tuesday, 5th August 2008

Hermione Cockburn examines a crinoid fossil.

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... are the sea lilies.

Yes, they’re often known as sea lilies, but they’re not plants, they’re a sea animal.

Okay, so what would this creature, this animal, the crinoid have looked like when it was alive and growing on the reef?

It’s a relative of the sea urchin and starfish, so if you think of a starfish on a stalk you’ve basically got your crinoid.

So a long tall stalk, made up of tiny little plates we call ossicles, one on top of each other, and at the top of that there’s a mouth surrounded by tentacles we call arms, and it waves around in the water, it filter feeds.

So those arms create tiny little currents that send all the particles in the water down towards the mouth.

So yes, definitely, this is a single creature with a mouth.

Yes.

It’s clearly an animal.

Yes.

And what I love about this specimen is that you can see those individual plates that make up the stem so clearly.

 

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