Starfish and Brittle Stars

Lang de

Only a few Middle Triassic asteroid genera are known, but each of these was described from Muschelkalk specimens. Best known is Trichasteropsis, a genus defined by a mixed pattern of ancestral and advanced characters. Trichasteropsis was presumably preying on small bivalves and gastropods. The radiation of the Asteroidea, which made these echinoderms highly mobile, successful and diverse predators, commenced not before the end of the Triassic in Early Jurassic times.

The Muschelkalk brittle stars inhabited the seafloor. Mass occurrences of equally sized individuals are indicative of coeval populations of the same seasonal reproduction cycle. Like their extant relatives, they avoided bright light and tried to hide under bivalve shells or within empty ceratite conchs. There they were frequently trapped when mud was settling after a storm.