Paper No. 88-6
Presentation Time: 9:30 AM
EXCEPTIONALLY PRESERVED ECHINODERMS FROM THE SILURIAN HEREFORDSHIRE LAGERSTÄTTE, UK
The Herefordshire Konservat-Lagerstätte from the Welsh Borderland, UK, offers a unique window on life during the Silurian, around 430 million years ago. This deposit preserves a range of remarkable fossil invertebrates, complete with soft tissues, in three dimensions. Several echinoderms are known from this locality, including an asterozoan, a new genus of rhenopyrgid edrioasteroid, and a new species of ophiocistioid. Selected specimens were studied using serial grinding and computer reconstruction, allowing us to characterize their anatomy in unprecedented detail. Individuals of all three taxa preserve soft tissues interpreted as elements of the water vascular system, a defining feature of echinoderms that is rarely evident in fossil forms. These exceptional specimens shed new light on the structure and function of this key organ system in extinct echinoderm groups, with important implications for their evolution and ecology.