Functional morphology of synostosial articulations in the crinoid column



The rarest articulation found in the crinoid column is the synostosis, in which adjacent articular facets are essentially planar. ‘Synostoses’ in the columns of post-Palaeozoic isocrinids are more correctly termed cryptosymplexies. comprising symplectial articulations which have become infilled by secondary calcite. Cryptosymplexial joints are totally inflexible and are the preferred sites of stem autotomy. Synostoses sensu stricto appear to have been limited to early Palaeozoic taxa, but this form of articulation was soon succeeded by the symplexy. Synostoses were probably commonest in meric columns which evolved from hohlwurzels and in which the main flexibility was along meric sutures, rather than between columnals. With the evolution of the holomeric columnal. a more flexible articulation between columnals was a functional necessity in order that the stem did not develop into a stiffened rod. The solution was the evolution of the symplexy. ***Crinoids, columnals. synostosis, functional morphology evolution.