Functional morphology of synarthrial articulations in the crinoid stem



Synarthrial fulcral ridges are found in crinoid columnals from the mid-Ordovician to the present and in all four subclasses. Similar articulations did not become common in the cirri until the Mesozoic. Synarthrial stem articulations fall into two broad groups. Type I articulations have a fulcral ridge in the centre of the articular facet. In elliptical ossicles this ridge corresponds to either the long (IA) or short (IB) axis of the facet. Although both are functionally similar, Type IA ossicles are more common. Type II articulations have an excentric fulcral ridge, parallel to either the long (IIA) or short (IIB) axis of the articular facet. Type IIA articulations are found in crinoid stems capable of coiling. Type II articulations are particularly common in the cirri of articulates and are well adapted for attachment to hard and soft substrates. Columnals with Type I articulations often have divergent fulcra, giving the stem flexibility in all directions, but this feature is not seen in cirri or in coiled stems, where it would impair normal functions. Only the cirri of isocrinids and comatulids are muscular, so the movement of columns with fulcra must be passive.