Pronounced – Cry-noid
Meaning of name – From the Greek krinoeides (meaning ‘like a lily’)
Group – Echinoderm
Age – Lower Jurassic, around 195 million years old
Crinoids or ‘sea lilies’ were not plants as their name suggests, but animals related to starfish and sea urchins. They have lived in our oceans for millions of years and can still be found today. They lived attached to the sea bed or to the underside of driftwood. The body consists of a long stem or stalk with the mouth, organs and five branching arms at the top. The arms are covered with small, sticky tube feet that the animal uses to catch tiny plants and animals (plankton) that drift along in the sea.
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Crinoid This image shows the head (calyx) and the branching arms that this animal (Pentacrinites fossilis). It has been preserved in fool’s gold (iron pyrite)
Crinoid stem Crinoids had a long stem which the animal used to attach to drift wood or the seafloor. The stems are star-shaped in cross section and this shows us that they are related to starfish.
Crinoid composite Pentacrinites fossilis
This picture shows the two most common types of crinoid fossil found at Charmouth (tentacle slab and the star-shaped stems) and a painting of what they would have looked like when alive in the Jurassic.
Rare Crinoids - This is an unusual crinoid that was found in the Blue Lias of Monmouth beach by Fiann Smithwick. It has been identified by experts at The Natural History Museum as Pentacrinites doreckae. Scientists use the subtle differences in the arrangement of the plates that make cup the head (calyx) and arms to identify them.
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