An historic, but misleading, label
These two starfish are from the ‘Starfish Bed’ between Eype and Seatown. They were intertwined by the force of currents on the sea floor when they became buried and fossilised.
The starfish are displayed with their original museum label, but it has since proved to be incorrect for several reasons.The identification is Ophiura Egertoni, which was correct at the time, but scientists have now reclassified Ophiura as Palaeocoma.
The label also identifies the strata as ‘Green Sand’, but we can tell from looking at the specimens and rock that they are definitely from the starfish bed, which makes the location incorrect as well.
Lastly, the species name should always be in lower case, so ‘egertoni’. This is the convention under the 1961 International Code of Zoological Nomenclature.
But sometimes the history behind a specimen is almost as interesting as the fossil itself, so museums retain their old labels for that reason.
Find out more about brittle stars on the echinoderms pages.