The improbability of a muscular crinoid column



Donovan, Stephen K. 1989 07 15: The improbability of a muscular crirroid column. Lethaia, Vol. 22, pp. 307–315. Oslo. ISSN 0024–1164.

It has sometimes been assumed that the stems of ancient crinoids were muscular. However, the only contractile fibres found in the stems of extant crinoids are in the cirri of isocrinids and comatulids. On uniformitarian grounds, it is improbable that any ancient crinoid had tissues in the stem that would have aided active orientation, apart from the non-muscular catch connective tissue. This conclusion is supported by a detailed functional analysis of the various forms of column and cirrus articulation. The axial canal has been seen as the probable site of any column musculature, but this is functionally impossible with symplexial and synostosial articulations, both of which are poorly adapted for muscular flexure. Columns that articulate synarthrially are much more flexible, but modern bourgueticrinids lack any stem musculature, despite having such stalks. The only crinoid columns that were functionally adapted to utilize contractile fibres were those of certain coiled-stemmed taxa, where the axial canal was not in the plane of the synarthrial fulcra. However, it is unlikely that such stems, even if muscular, possessed any advantage over a non-muscular column. The only pelmatozoans with a probable muscular column were not crinoids, but the glyptocystitid rhombiferans. *Crinoids, stem, columnal, cirrus, catch connective tissue, contractile fibres, functional morphology.