The basic body form of a crinoid is a stem (not present in adult feather stars) and a crown consisting of a cup-like central body known as the theca, and a set of five rays or arms, usually branched and feathery. The mouth and anus are both located on the upper side of the theca, making the dorsal (upper) surface the oral surface, unlike in the other echinoderm groups such as the sea urchins, starfish and brittle stars where the mouth is on the underside. The numerous calcareous plates make up the bulk of the crinoid, with only a small percentage of soft tissue. These ossicles fossilise well and there are beds of limestone dating from the Lower Carboniferous around Clitheroe, England, formed almost exclusively from a diverse fauna of crinoid fossils.
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