The fossil record of Echinoida is particularly poor, partially because so many taxa preferentially live in habitats where fossilization potential is extremely low. Furthermore, correct assignment to this family depends upon having lantern structure preserved which is very rare. Based on external test morphology, however, some genera can be confidently assigned to this group, and show that it extends back to the early Eocene, and probably into the late Cretaceous.
The group has been diversifying towards the present, with Toxopneustids appearing by the mid Eocene, and Echinometrids by the late Eocene. This suggests that the principal clades were all established in the early part of the Tertiary.