The 366 daily episodes in 2014 were chronological snapshots of earth history, beginning with the Precambrian in January and on to the Cenozoic in December. You can find them all in the index in the right sidebar. In 2015, the daily episodes for each month were assembled into monthly packages, and a few new episodes were posted. Now, the blog/podcast is on a weekly schedule with diverse topics, and the Facebook Page showcases photos on Mineral Monday and Fossil Friday. Thanks for your interest!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

April 10. Crinoids

First, an update. This week which is early April 2014, scientists from China, England, and the United States announced a new discovery from the Chengjiang faunal of China. Those are the remarkably well preserved Cambrian fossils that we talked about on February 8

The report details an arthropod that’s so well preserved, they have been able to describe the animal’s cardiovascular system. I’ve put a link to this paper on the February 8 episode.


Crinoids are echinoderms whose plant-like appearance gives then the name “sea lilies,” but they are animals related to starfish. And the name itself comes from the Greek word for a lily. Crinoids originated during the Ordovician biodiversification, but they expanded dramatically during the Silurian. As fossils, their disk-like segments, from their stems, are really common. Their more fragile, cup-shaped calyxes, where the animal’s feeding and digestive organs were located, are more rarely preserved. But when they are, they are some of the coolest fossils around.

Most crinoids were attached to the sea floor, though a few were free-floating, and most of the modern species are free-floating as well. The sea-floor attachments are called "holdfasts," but they really do look like the root system of a plant.

—Richard I. Gibson

Crinoid drawn by James Hall (1881). Natural height about 5 inches.

Earliest crinoids 

Blog extra: Today, April 10, in 1815, Tambora erupted in Indonesia. The eruption was violent, and put so much dust and ash in the atmosphere that it caused the "year without a summer" when it snowed in Washington D.C. in July 1816.

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