For this last Friday of February we have a fossil echinoid, Encope sp. Echinoids (Class Echinoidea) belong to the Phylum Echinodermata, which includes starfish, sand dollars, and sea lilies. Echinoids have a skeleton made up of tightly interlocking plates called a test and fall into two categories: regular and irregular. This echinoid is an irregular echinoid because it is bilaterally symmetrical instead of radially symmetrical. You can tell because you can “fold” one side of the specimen over the other along the axis of symmetry and both sides look identical. Irregular echinoids burrow into the surface of the sediment to collect food.
To read more about echinoid diversity in Panama, click here to download and read a chapter on echinoderm diversity in Panama from the book Echinoderm Research and Diversity in Latin America. To find out more about modern echinoderms from Panama, check out this website: http://echinoderms.lifedesks.org/.
Coppard, S. E. (2010). The Echinoderms of Panama. Accessed online at http://echinoderms.lifedesks.org/ on Feb. 16, 2015.
Waggoner, B. (2001). Introduction to the Echinoidea. Accessed online at http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/echinodermata/echinoidea.html on Feb. 16, 2015.