Crinoids live in the sea. Their name is derived from krinoeides (Greek) which means 'like a lily'. They are also called sea lilies or feather-stars.
The crinoid is the state fossil of Missouri, USA.
Timescale: Crinoids have been around for a long time, about 480 million years ago. There are still crinoids alive today.
|A crinoid has three parts, a stem which it uses to stick to the sea floor, a calyx or body, and its arms which it uses to catch its food. Usually it's the stem which is found as a fossil, but on the left you can see some fossil crinoid arms. On the right are some living crinoids.|
|This is part of the stem of a crinoid, from the side and from the top. They used to be called St Cuthbert's Beads. St Cuthbert lived at Lindisfarne, and was supposed to use the fossils as rosary beads. In Derbyshire, they are called screwstones, as the shape looks like a screw. However, the grooves don't make a spiral like a proper screw. Some crinoid stems have the shape of a star, and they are called star stones. They were thought to have been made in the clouds and dropped during thunder-storms. In Malta, these stones were supposed to have been blessed by St Paul, who stayed on the island, and they protected you against poison. Size of fossil: 15mm|
|These crinoid stems were found on Castleton beach, in the Isle of Man. You can see that two of pictures show the sections, called columnals, have separated and just look like discs. In Germany, these are called Bonifacius Pfennige or St Boniface's pennies.
|Crinoids are rare nowadays but in the past they were common, so there are a lot of crinoid fossils. Here is a type of rock called crinoid limestone, which is mostly crinoids! It comes from near Edinburgh, Scotland. It is Carboniferous, about 300 million years old. The two photos show both sides of the rock. See if you can find the crinoid with a star-shaped hole. Size of stone: 85mm|
|This is another piece of massed crinoids. It has been polished to show the structure better. This shows top and bottom. Size: 22mm|
This is a rock with crinoid stems on one side, and crinoid arms on the other. Size: 78mm
© Jo Edkins 2007 - Return to Fossils index