Echinoderm research

Echinoderm research in the Palaeontology Department focuses on 2 principal themes:

  1. The early Palaeozoic diversification of echinoderms and the origins of the major body plans.
  2. The post-Palaeozoic evolution of sea urchins.
  • 3D model of the internal soft-tissue anatomy of a sea urchin
    Taxonomy, palaeobiology and evolution of echinoids

    A major aim of our research is to establish the phylogenetic relationships of post-Palaeozoic echinoids and produce a detailed evolutionary tree by studying key faunas in the fossil record. Learn which faunas are being analysed, and how.

  • Sea urchin of the genus Hemipedina
    The Echinoid Directory

    The Echinoid Directory is an online guide to sea urchins. Maintained by Museum experts, it provides taxonomic information on all the genera and species of echinoid that have been described, as well as information on their morphology and evolution.

  • Pentacrinites, a Lower Jurassic crinoid
    Crinoid systematics

    Crinoids are the most primitive of the 5 living echinoderm classes. We have a number of projects to develop monographs and guides to particular crinoid faunas, focussing on their Mesozoic fossil record.

  • A pre-radiate echinoderm
    Primitive echinoderms and the origin of the modern body plan

    Work is taking place to trace the origins of the major extant classes of echinoderms. By studying the fossil record we also hope to build up a picture of how primitive echinoderms with bilateral symmetry evolved into the animals with 5-sided symmetry that we see today.

Fossil echinoderm researchers