Echinoids are a major group of marine invertebrates with a long fossil record. If you know nothing about the group the obvious place to start is at the Introduction. Here you will find some basic facts about how echinoids live, feed and reproduce. Information presented here is very non-technical and is designed for the casual visitor with no biological training.
The section entitled Morphology and morphological terms will be most useful to the serious amateur, undergraduate or those just beginning to get into the scientific literature who need some guidance with the formidable array of technical terms. Here you will find illustrations of the more commonly employed descriptive terms applied to echinoids.
The primary purpose of the site, however, is to provide a taxonomic resource for the scientific community in which the genera and higher taxa of echinoid can be simply and rapidly identified. There are currently over 2500 pages of detailed information about echinoid taxa. Here no holds are barred and technical terms abound. A reasonable grasp of echinoid morphology is assumed and these pages will be of most use to professional scientists and advanced researchers. For each genus information is given about the type species, the key diagnostic characters, its stratigraphical and geographical distribution, species currently assigned with confidence (not by any means exhaustive), and remarks about recent scientific publications dealing with this taxon. Wherever possible high-quality images are provided of specimens in oral, aboral and lateral views.
To access this information you can go direct to the Index which will take you to the appropriate page, or you can use the Keys where you will find an illustrated step by step dichotomous key to help you identify which echinoid you have.
This site is an open community project which currently provides access to images of the type species of almost all described genera of echinoid, both Recent and fossil. Some additional non-type species are also illustrated. All taxonomic names that have ever been proposed, whether valid or otherwise should now be covered. Dates of first postings of major groups are as follows:-
Designed and created by Andrew B Smith, Department of Palaeontology, The Natural History Museum.