8.8" Plate of Silurian Cystoid (Caryocrinites) Fossils - New York

This is a 8.8" wide plate of fossil cystoids (Caryocrinites ornatus) from the Rochester Shale of New York. These were very unique finds because cystoids are almost always (99% of the time) found without arms or stems. The layer these cystoids originally came from had been exhausted for over a decade, but recent excavations in the past few years exposed additional material.

This cystoid specimens are very inflated and are laid out nicely across a 8.8 x 7.7" block of shale. A variety of coral, bryozoan, and partial trilobite fossils can be found scattered throughout the rock. The specimen stands up on edge nicely, however it is accompanied by a display stand to assist with presentation.

Cystoids are extinct echinoderms similar to crinoids. They consist of a stalk, theca (body), and brachials (feeding arms). Most lived fixed to the seafloor, but some were more mobile. Like modern echinoderms, cystoids were arranged in a fivefold symmetric pattern and had a water vascular system. However, unlike most echinoderms, cystoids had triangular calcite plates at their body openings containing pores that are thought to have been for breathing.

Cystoids first appear in the Cambrian Period and reached peak diversity during the Ordivician and Silurian Periods. Cystoids died out at the end of the Devonian or early in the Carboniferous Period.

Cystoids resembled flowers, but were in fact animals. They had a stem that attached them to the seafloor, a theca, and brachials. The theca contained the cystoid's vital organs and was made up of calcite plates that formed a spherical or ovate body. The brachials were the feeding arms that extended from the top of the theca, arranged in three- or five-fold symmetry, and funneled food to the mouth at their center. Cystoids and crinoids look similar but have some distinct differences. The main difference is in the shape of the main body of the organisms: cystoids had a spherical or ovate theca, while crinoids had a cup shaped calyx. Cystoids also had triangular plates at body openings while crinoids had variably shaped plates.
Caryocrinites ornatus
Middleport, New York
Rochester Shale
8.8 x 7.7"
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