The poorly illustrated crinoid



Donovan, S.K. 2011: The poorly illustrated crinoid. Lethaia, Vol. 44, pp. 125–135.

Artistic licence is kept under firm control when restoring fossil tetrapods and their natural environments, but the same care is not always applied to reconstructions of ancient invertebrates. Selected renderings of fossil crinoids illustrate grossly inaccurate skeletal geometry and outmoded ideas of palaeoautecology. Together, these combine to give the public an incorrect impression of what a fossil crinoid looked like and how it lived, in some instances inferior to what was possible in the 19th century. The reason why crinoids receive such poor service from artists is, in part, probably due to their being exotic; humans and other tetrapods are a common part of our experience, whereas stalked crinoids, although extant, can only be seen in life with the aid of a research submersible in deep water (>100 m). Crinoids also have a complex endoskeleton that requires care in illustration. They are unusual creatures in an alien environment even at the present day. But echinoderm palaeontologists need to be more energetic in promoting the correct depiction of ancient species. □Crinoidea, illustration, morphology, palaeoenvironments, reconstruction.