This is an exceptionally well preserved multiple example of a
distinctive Camerate crinoid type. Scyphocrinites have been found
in Asia, North America, Europe, and Africa. Instead of being
rooted to the ground like most crinoids, Scyphocrinites had a
lobolith, which is a floating sphere that keeps an animal afloat
in water. Unlike other crinoids, Scyphocrinites hung upside down
at the surface. The dark 3D crinoid contrasts beautifully against
the muted purple matrix. It would make a fantastic collection
centerpiece, or, distinctive decorative display piece.
researching Scyphocrinites, I came upon some very interesting
information regarding their quarrying. At one location on a flat,
dusty, parched plain, a large whole is burrowed by hand straight
down about 16 feet. At the crinoid horizon level another tunnel
is dug parallel to the crinoid zone. The earth and over burden
are laboriously hauled to the surface by basket. The crinoid
plates are then generally broken up into pieces and hauled up
to the surface. They are then sent to various European countries
for re-assembly and final preparation.
Like most fossils from Third World countries, these elegant crinoid
plates are great bargains. At the Tucson Fossil and Mineral show
I spoke to one of the worlds most important dealers of Moroccan
fossils. He told me that he pays his workers about ten dollars
a day. Evidently a respectable day wage by Moroccan standards.