Crinoid or Sea Lily or Indian Bead?

Crinoid Pieces


Crinoid Broken Stem Fossils

Crinoid Broken Stem Fossils












I find these fossils all the time along the shores of Lake Michigan. These crinoid fossils are commonly referred to as “sea lilies because of their colorful flower like appearance when they were living beings, but were a type of animal. They possessed long branching arms that sat atop of a single stem reaching as high as two meters in length.  They attached themselves to the sea floor or on rocks or even sunken wood. A spawning of their offspring from these bottom bound creatures may have looked like thousands of dandelion seeds blown by the wind.

Their fossils are often found broken up into individual “cheerio” shaped sections. Each circular section was stacked one over the other when they were alive which formed their entire structure. The Native Americans used their fragmented fossilized sections to make necklaces and so another common name for them some people use is Indian Bead.


Crinoid Pieces found on Oval Beach, Lake Michigan

Crinoid Pieces found on Oval Beach, Lake Michigan

Their history began during the Ordovician Period around 500 million years ago, although, most fossils are from the Mississipian Period around 345 mya preserved in limestone. Their fossil remains are found widespread in North America explained by the fact that much of the country was covered under warm shallow seas. The sea lily crinoids were a dominant feature in the Paleozoic seas. Most varieties succumbed to the great Permain extinction, but a few still thrive today mostly in colder, deep water environments and no longer reach the length of the ancient varieties.
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum:   Echinoderm (means spiny skin, i.e. starfish, sea urchins, feather stars)
Class:     Crinoid (means flower form)

Crinoid “Sea Lily” Rendering In The Ancient Seas


3 thoughts on “Crinoid or Sea Lily or Indian Bead?

  1. Ifind these all the time at one of my favorite fishing holes here in Kansas…

  2. Pingback: Treasures of the Dunes - Dig The Dunes

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