Fossil Crinoidea Shell Beads
A large quantity of these have recently (Spring 2005) been discovered in the area of Toudeni in the Mali Desert. They resemble shells, with spiral circles in their centres, looking like threads inside a nut*. Heavy in weight, they were new on the West African markets and many dealers' assistants were seen busily threading large quantities of them for sale. In the space of 3 weeks they had begun to appear in markets in Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal and The Gambia .. with their sellers having absolutely no idea of what they were selling, but asking high prices in any case !!
They are in fact very likely to be parts of the articulated peduncles of the so-called "Sea Lilies" (Crinoidea), animals closely related to sea urchins and sea stars (Echinodermata). They were amongst the more common animals found in the sea floor communities of the Paleozoic era ... 543 to 248 million years ago.
Click HERE to see a picture of them.
We are very grateful for this identification information and the beautiful picture
( borrowed from The Fossil World by Richard Moody - 1977 Hamlyn Edition )
both kindly supplied by our long-time friend and customer Alvaro .. Muchos gracias señor.