species: Comatella nigra in taxonomy (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Comatella nigra

©Anne Hoggett: This is probably Comatella nigra based on irridescent dark blue arms, number of arms, presence of cirri and cryptic habit. At MacGillivray Reef near Lizard Island from under rubble.
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Echinodermata
Class Crinoidea
Order Comatulida
Family Comatulidae
Genus Comatella
Species Comatella nigra

Distinguishing features

Up to 80 arms (usually 40-45); a good ring of cirri with up to 30 segments on a stout, discoidal centrodorsal.

A common colour form of Comatella at Lizard Island is bright irridescent blue with a dark midline on arms when seen underwater, appears black or dark burgundy in air. Needs to be determined whether this is Comatella nigra or a second common colour form of Comatella stelligera. This colour form is more common on reef slopes than reef flats.

The following characters are only useful when a specimen can be examined with a microscope: all division series of two ossicles; IIIBr series usually present only on the external side of each IIBr series; first syzygy on free arm almost always at 1+2, rarely 3+4; teeth of combed pinnules confluent with interior side of the segment.


  • Size data has not been obtained.

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Web resources


References that assist with identification

  • Clark, A.M. and F.W.E. Rowe (1971). Monograph of shallow-water Indo-west Pacific echinoderms British Museum (Natural History), London.
  • Summers, M. M., C.G. Messing and G.W. Rouse (2014). Phylogeny of Comatulidae (Echinodermata: Crinoidea: Comatulida): A new classification and an assessment of morphological characters for crinoid taxonomy, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 80: 319-339. LIRS catalog number 1813.

Other references

  • Meyer, D.L. (1979). Length and spacing of the tube feet in crinoids (Echinodermata) and their role in suspension-feeding, Marine Biology, 51: 361-369. LIRS catalog number 29.
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