Mandalacystis dockeryi n. gen. and sp. is known from seven complete or nearly complete thecae, six partial thecae, and numerous separate plates from the Oil Creek Formation in south-central Oklahoma, and a single thecal plate from the Antelope Valley Limestone in Nevada. Details of skeletal microstructure (stereom) are well preserved, permitting scanning electron microscopy for the first time in the Eocrinoidea, and demonstrating that plate thickness on thecal faces is only 60–70 μm. Mandalacystis is characterized by labyrinthine ridges on both faces of the theca, relatively short brachioles, and a normal stem with holdfast (at least in juvenile stages). Based on the normal biserial arrangement of brachiolar plates in the brachioles and the possession of a normal stem, Mandalacystis appears to be one of the most primitive rhipidocystids, closely related to Petalocystites.
Mandalacystis dockeryi lived in a storm-dominated, shallow-water offshore habitat on patches of skeletal debris surrounded by soft, terrigenous mud. This setting may have been conducive to the transition from an erect, attached mode of life to the prone, unattached lifestyle of later rhipidocystids.