the crinoid Actinocrinus indianensis

Mystery Fossil #57

Crinoids are not very abundant today and most live at great depths and so are unfamiliar to most people. However, they dominated shallow marine habitats throughout the Paleozoic until the end of the Permian, when they came close to complete extinction. Read more about crinoids here.

This fossil has some historical significance as it was acquired for Berkeley's fledgling Museum of Natural History (then located in South Hall) in 1883 by Joseph Le Conte. Read more about Le Conte here. It was just one of a collection of crinoid fossils purchased from Professor A.D. Bassett of Wabash College, Crawfordsville, IN, for $1000 (a lot of money for that era). The Crawfordsville crinoids were found in 340-million-year-old Mississippian rocks of the Edwardsville Formation.

An amazingly well-preserved and diverse assemblage of crinoid fossils have been collected in the Crawfordsville area. Over 60 species have been identified, over half of them from complete specimens (calices and stems). Many, like Actinocrinus here, are preserved in three dimensions. Read more about the Crawfordsville crinoids, and see photos of several, here.


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