NEAR KHAMONTOVO, LENINGRAD REGION, RUSSIA–When you’re a paleontologist in the field with other geologists for the first time, you need to prove your general scientific worth by either saying witty things or finding an excellent specimen right away. I went for the latter and picked up on our first outcrop the rhombiferans you see below. I’m golden now, at least for a few days.
Rhombiferans are Early Paleozoic echinoderms which resemble crinoids and blastoids but have few brachioles (extensions around the mouth to filter food from the water). I’ve only previously seen random plates and holdfasts, so I was plenty surprised by these beauties. I donated them graciously, of course, to the echinoderm expert. This is not hard to do since Russian law does not allow foreigners to take fossils out of the country.