Article: Functional morphology of stylophoran echinoderms
The life orientation and mode of life of stylophorans are a subject of much ongoing debate. Examination of the ornamentation occurring both on the arm and theca in several cornutes and mitrates strongly supports the view that the life orientation was similar in all stylophorans and was 'flat-surface down'. The presence of an asymmetrical ornamentation adapted to hinder, or minimize, back slippage of the organism in all stylophorans gives strong support to their interpretation as mostly sessile organisms, feeding with the arm facing the current and the theca downstream. The examination of a wide array of thecal morphologies and sculpture patterns displayed by the various groups of cornutes and mitrates allows the identification of three main modes of life in stylophorans: (1) an epibenthic mode of life, with the theca as main anchor to the substrate (e.g. asymmetrical cornutes, Diamphidiocystis); (2) an epibenthic mode of life, with the arm as main anchor to the sediment (e.g. symmetrical cornutes, Peltocystis, primitive Mitrocystitida, some Kirkocystidae); (3) an infaunal mode of life, with the theca buried in a slightly inclined attitude (e.g. some Kirkocystidae, Mitrocystitida with cuesta-shaped ribs). The partially buried mode of life of Lagynocystis is intermediate between 2 and 3.