Carneyella  ulrichi


Edrioasteroids are an extinct group of echinoderms - they’re related to starfish, brittle stars, sea urchins, sand dollars, and sea cucumbers.  They are attractive and much-sought-after fossils among collectors.


Carneyella ulrichi is a rare edrioasteroid species that is known only in the Maysvillian Stage (middle Upper Ordovician) of the Cincinnatian outcrop area of northern Kentucky.  Before spring 1998, the only known specimen on Earth was the holotype (USNM S-3964, housed at the U.S. National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA).  Carneyella ulrichi was first named & described by Ray Bassler and William Shideler in 1936 using the USNM S-3964 specimen, a partially disrupted skeleton encrusting a Hebertella occidentalis brachiopod shell.


The most distinctive feature of Carneyella ulrichi is the presence of numerous pointed tubercles covering the plates of the skeleton.


Classification: Animalia, Echinodermata, Edrioasteroidea, Isorophida, Hemicystitidae


Carneyella ulrichi Bassler & Shideler, 1936 edrioasteroid (above & below; ~2.2 cm across), encrusting hardground.  This is the first specimen of this species found since ulrichi was first named.



An abundance of new Carneyella ulrichi material has become available since the spring of 1998.  The new material all comes from the Maysville West outcrop, a large roadcut cut through Jersey Ridge along Rt. 62/68 (formerly Rt. 3071), just south of Harsha Bridge over the Ohio River, ~1 mile east of Moranburg, ~2 miles northwest of Maysville, northern Mason County, northeastern Kentucky, USA.  Maysville West consists of two cuts: a larger, lower cut immediately north of the bridge over Lawrence Creek, and a smaller, upper cut immediately south of the Lawrence Creek bridge.  Carneyella ulrichi has been found at both the upper & lower Maysville West cuts.

GPS of larger/northern cut: 38° 40.407’ North, 83° 47.830’ West.


The photos above show the discovery specimen for all the new Carneyella ulrichi material.  The discovery specimen was found by Christian Steck in spring 1998, then a structural geology graduate student at Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio, USA).  The specimen was first identified as Carneyella ulrichi by James St. John, then a paleontology graduate student at Ohio State.  The species identification was verified by Colin Sumrall, an edrioasteroid researcher at the Cincinnati Museum Center (now at the University of Tennessee).  The locality has since been intensely quarried and collected by professional paleontologists, geology students, commercial fossil collectors, and amateur fossil collectors.


Carneyella ulrichi at Maysville West occurs on a limestone hardground.  The accompanying encrusting biota includes four other edrioasteroids (Carneyella pilea, Streptaster vorticellatus, Isorophus cincinnatiensis, and Curvitriordo stecki), crinoid holdfasts, trepostome & cyclostome bryozoans, and cornulitid worm tubes.  Trypanites borings are also present.


Stratigraphically, the Carneyella ulrichi hardground is from the ~mid-Bellevue Limestone (middle Maysvillian Stage, middle Cincinnatian Series, middle Upper Ordovician).  Several hardground horizons have been identified in the lower to middle Bellevue Limestone at Maysville West.


Carneyella ulrichi quarry dug out at southern shoulder of the southeastern side of the Maysville West lower/larger cut.  The pile of rubble on the bench below the quarry has gradually grown since the late 1990s.




Carneyella ulrichi hardground, here having a gently sculpted surface.



Some Literature on Carneyella ulrichi


Bassler, R.S.  1936.  New species of American Edrioasteroidea.  Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 95(6).33 pp.  7 pls.


Bell, B.M.  1976.  A study of North American Edrioasteroidea.  New York State Museum and Science Service Memoir 21.  447 pp.


Sumrall, C.D., C.E. Brett, P.T. Work & D.L. Meyer.  1999.  Taphonomy and paleoecology of an edrioasteroid encrusted hardground in the lower Bellevue Formation at Maysville, Kentucky.  pp. 123-131 in  Sequence, cycle & event stratigraphy of Upper Ordovician & Silurian strata of the Cincinnati Arch region.  1999 Field Conference of the Great Lakes Section, SEPM-SSG (Society for Sedimentary Geology) Field Trip Guidebook. [reprinted 2001 in Kentucky Geological Survey, Series XII, Guidebook 1: 123-131.]


Berg, M.V.  2000.  Paleoecology and paleoenvironment of an Upper Ordovician hardground (Grant Lake Formation, Cincinnatian Series, northern Kentucky).  pp. 240-243 in  Thirteenth Keck Research Symposium in Geology, Proceedings, Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington, April 2000.


Sumrall, C.D.  2010.  The systematics of a new Upper Ordovician edrioasteroid pavement from northern Kentucky.  Journal of Paleontology 84: 783-794.



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