Wenlock creatures: Other creatures from the Wenlock Reef

Cornulites serpularius

Cornulites serpularius, Schlotheim

It's not entirely certain what Cornulites animals looked like because they are extinct. Because the fossils are sometimes found encrusting shells and corals, they may have been a type of worm which built itself a hard tube attached to reef builders or dwellers to live in, a bit like Serpulid worms which still exist today.

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Staurocystis quadrifasciatus,(Pearce)

Staurocystis quadrifasciatus, (Pearce)

This Cystoid was a simple, primitive relative of the crinoids, which lived on the sea bed.

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Other creatures from the Wenlock Reef

About 1% of the fossils in the Sedgwick Museum’s collections from the Wenlock Reef don’t belong to any of the nine big groups of Silurian reef animals. These include all sorts of creatures, from starfish to worms, and several which we don't really know what they are.

If we think about the reasons why some are rare, there are some obvious answers and some less obvious:

  • Some of these fossils are rare because the animals themselves were rare when they were alive.
  • Others were rare because they generally prefer to live in a different type of environment, for example the deep sea. They have been moved into the Wenlock Reef by accident, either dead or alive.
  • Perhaps the animals themselves were fragile and didn't fossilise easily.
  • Perhaps the fossils were more fragile than others, and so were difficult to collect.
  • Remember we are looking at a museum collection, not the whole reef … perhaps collectors might have chosen to keep only the attractive or interesting specimens?

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