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