FIELD GUIDES: Sea Urchin Trove

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Science  19 Jan 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5503, pp. 403
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5503.403c

Spiny sea urchins and disk-shaped sand dollars are familiar members of the echinoids, a class of marine invertebrates with an intricate skeleton composed of plates. There are about 800 species of these echinoids around the world, and their fossil record goes back 450 million years, making them of great interest to paleontologists studying evolution. A new site from the Natural History Museum in London offers basic background on echinoid anatomy and life history for students and amateurs. But its primary purpose is “to provide a taxonomic resource for the scientific community” with identification keys and over 200 taxonomic pages, many with detailed photos. Curator Andrew Smith has covered 12 of the 76 echinoid families so far and eventually hopes to include all fossil and living genera.

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