Ooh nice find

NEW RESEARCH: Sea Urchins and Sand Dollars Give Scientists a Reason to Rethink a Pattern of Evolution

A new study about echinoids—marine animals like sea urchins and sand dollars—gives scientists a reason to rethink a classical pattern of evolution. Fossil-based studies have traditionally indicated that groups of organisms diversify fastest early in their evolutionary history, followed by a steady decline through time. But the new work by Museum assistant curator Melanie Hopkins and her colleague Andrew Smith at the Natural History Museum, London published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences contradicts that expectation. They found that rates of evolution were actually lowest at Echinoidea’s onset and increased over time through episodic bursts associated with changes in the animals’ feeding strategies. 

Read the full story on the Museum blog. 


I’ve been informed by @thepatronsaintofdaydreams that there’s an issue in Florida with the impending destruction of a reef for ‘restoration’ purposes. Please see this petition for more information; a snippet is below:

“The Ecological Importance of the Intertidal Sabellariid Reef is huge to our area. An examination of the organisms living within small worm clumps collected from the reef, revealed a number of invertebrates including various mollusks, crabs, shrimp and echinoids. The worm reefs host dozens of species of fish, including grunts, snappers, snook, and tarpon. The inhabitants of OUR NATURAL REEF, will not be the same as the artificial reef being placed offshore. The algae and food source will no longer be there for shorebirds and other marine creatures. This artificial reef in much deeper water will attract much larger fish, these larger fish will be a direct threat to SEA TURTLE HATCHLINGS.  In addition, the reef offers a sanctuary to these hatchlings on the way to the open ocean. If you look at photos from over the last 50 years in our area, you will see that the shore has always looked the same, it has never been like Cocoa Beach to the north.” 

I don’t personally know a lot about this issue, but am never down with native ecosystems being ruined (especially for no real reason?) The documentation seems to indicate they think the construction of artificial reefs will suffice for the removal of a portion of this habitat. That seems off to me; please read the petition information/documentation and sign if you agree. Thank you.

Some life on Earth is so different than what I expect. These urchins (fun name: sea hedgehogs) convert aqueous CO2 into their hard shell. There are 950 species of these echinoids! (at Sanya)

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Various progress updates.
This casting business is certainly fun! I tried setting ballpoints directly into the feet and hands this time. I mucked up on the hands but got it right on the feet, buuuut I should’ve had them connected to a few more joints because now I can’t push a second joint into the hole. Derp. Well, you live and you learn.
The little Echinoids were cast from the black flint one there I found on Worthing Beach. I might paint a couple to match the original and sell them, but they’re there as a mould to pour in resin if I mix too much.
Slush cast the Therizinosaurus head and that went great. Going to do the same to the Yutyrannus tomorrow!


al_bosh Perfect whole echinoid (sea urchin) fossil in flint. According to @london_mudlark these “fairy loaves” have been collected and treasured by humans for millennia


yorkshire.fossils This little fossil is from the shales at Speeton and is known as an echinoid, or sea urchin. We have not found many great examples of these animals since they are often considerably waterworn and thus difficult to spot amongst the many pebbles of flint near to where these are found.