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Crinoid Fossils

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crinoids drawingCrinoid fossils for sale! We have both education quality and affordable fossils as well as display quality Scyphocrinites elegans, crinoid plates. We carry lots of crinoid parts for educational uses like crinoid stem sections as specimens and in bulk wholesale lots. we also have calyx and holdfast specimens as well as some showy plates from Morocco.

The Crinoid Timeline

The Crinoid Timeline

crinoid spindle chart

What is a crinoid?
Crinoids
are a kind of sea animal that look like a flower growing on a thick stem. They are sometimes called sea lillies because of their flower like appearence.  There are also free swimming crinoids called feather stars or comatulids
Crinoids belong to the phylum echinodermata, and are related to starfish and sea urchins. All echinoderms display radial symmetry with 5 segments, exoskeletons made of hard plates called ossicles, and a water vascular system. 

When did crinoids live?
The first crinoids appeared in the fossil record during the ordovician period. At least the first ones that everyone agrees were true crinoids. As a group crinoids were especially plentiful during the Devonian and Carboniferous Periods. They were very common throughout the Paleozoic Era, but the great dying at the end of the Permian Period nearly wiped them out. Only a few species survived into the Triassic Period and by the Jurassic crinoids rebounded becomming almost as diverse and plentiful as they had been during the Paleozoic Era. Since then Crinoids have slowly dwindled. Today there are about 80 varieties of stalked crinoids and several times that many feather stars. The spindle chart to the left shows the abundance and diversity of crinoids through time. 


living crinoids


Crinoids were so plentiful during the Paleozoic Era that they created huge reefs, sometimes several meters thick.

crinoid reef


What did Crinoid eat?
Crinoids are filter feeders, meaning they catch their food as it floats by in the ocean currents. It is the flower part that catches the food. This flower part is called the crown. The crown has long arms extending in all directions. Each arm has Pinnules extending from them. The pinnules catch the plankton and move it to a groove in the center of the arm which in turn moves the food to the mouth. The center of the crown is called the arboral cup. It has the mouth where the plankton ends up. 

Crinoids have a holdfast that anchors them to the sea floor. There is a stalk or stem made of round disks stacked atop one another. The disks are called columnals. 

Crinoids belong to the class of echinodermata called Crinoidea. Today there is only one subclass: Articulata. The articulata have their origins in the Mesozoic Era. There are several subclasses of extinct crinoids: Flexibilia, Camerata, Disparida.

Where Can I find Crinoids?
Crinoids are a very common fossils and can be found many places around the world. Most often what is found are fragments of stem. Finding intact crowns, well that is another story. In the USA the best place to find crinoids is the mid west, specifically Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Crawfordsville, Indiana has world class crinoid deposits. In Europe Germany is the place. Holzmaden has pyritized crinoids that are spectacular! Morocco also has an abundance of crinoid fossils. Huge plates of Scyphocrinites elegans are found there regularly. There is a catch though. The crinoid layer is about 20 feet below the surface and lies horozantally. The Moroccans dig vertical shafts and then tunnel till they find the crinoids! Then they bring the fossils out in pieces, reassemble, and prep. Below on the left is a crinoid plate being reassembled. Next to that is the shaft used to get down to the crinoid layer.

crinoid puzzle crinoid hole

Learn More About Crinoids Here

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