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Crinoid functional morphology

  • Tomasz K. Baumiller (a1)

Recent advances in crinoid functional morphology have been concentrated predominantly in two areas, one involving the study of mutable collagenous tissues (MCTs), and the other dealing with the implications of crinoids' rheophilic nature. The presence of MCTs in crinoid cirri and stalks, and their importance to the function of these structures has been demonstrated in several studies. It has been recently reported that MCTs have contractile properties (Birenheide and Motokawa, 1996); if this is corroborated, it would help resolve many fundamental problems in crinoid functional morphology. Studies of the crinoids in their natural setting have confirmed their predominantly rheophilic nature. The application of the rheophilic paradigm and the principles of physics and engineering to crinoids has provided insights into several areas of crinoid functional morphology, including: (1) mechanics of particle interception—direct interception (and not sieving) as the dominant mode of particle capture by the tube feet (no mucus net); (2) the importance of feeding posture and orientation—(a) bilateral symmetry of the feeding posture (oral side downcurrent), (b) the problems associated with maintaining such a posture under bi- or multi-directional flow (swiveling of pinnules, arms, and /or entire filters); (3) the effect of filter resistivity on fluid interception—solid filters need high ambient current velocities; and (4) the influence of nearest neighbors on fluid interception—side-by-side neighbors might be favored over upstream–downstream neighbors.

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