species: Comanthus parvicirrus in taxonomy (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Comanthus parvicirrus

©Lyle Vail and Anne Hoggett: Comanthus parvicirrus arms protruding from a crevice. Note the darker transverse lines on arms and yellow pinnule tips.

©Anne Hoggett: Comanthus parvicirrus at North Direction Island. Typical individuals like this can be identified in the field by a combination of features: living position (body within reef, several arms protruding), short combs on pinnules from proximal ones to those far along the arm; and colour pattern (brown arm segments with dark articulations, blueish pinnules). However, this species has other colour combinations and other Comanthus species have the same living position and combed pinnule distribution.

©Anne Hoggett: Comanthus parvicirrus at North Direction Island. Note short combs on pinnules that occur along much of the arm length.
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Echinodermata
Class Crinoidea
Order Comatulida
Family Comatulidae
Genus Comanthus
Species Comanthus parvicirrus



Distinguishing features

Comatulids are distinguised from all other featherstar families by having terminal segments of the oral pinnules modified to form a comb. They also have a distinctive "feel" due to well developed hooks on most pinnules that cause them to cling like velcro.

Comanthus parvicirrus adults have 20 to 40 slender arms which are usually longer on one side of the animal than the other. There are a few weak cirri.

The most common colour form around Lizard Island is brown brachials with darker articulations, dull blue pinnules that may have yellow tips, and grey/blue cirri. Specimens not of this colour form are usually mostly dark green. There is not a dark midline on the underside of the arms.

This species is easily confused with Comanthus gisleni and positive identification is difficult unless the animal is extracted from its crevice.


  • Size data has not been obtained.

Depth range

  • Depth range data is not yet available.



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

Comanthus parvicirrus is semi-cryptic, with a few arms protruding from a crevice.

Comanthus parvicirrus can be found almost everywhere around the Lizard Island group. It is common on the reef slopes and is also found in the lagoon and back reef areas.

Web resources


References that assist with identification

  • Rowe, F.W.E., A.K. Hoggett, R.A. Birtles and L.L. Vail (1986). Revision of some comasterid general from Australia (Echinodermata: Crinoidea), with descriptions of two new genera and nine new species, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 86: 197-277. LIRS catalog number 198.
  • Summers, M. M., C.G. Messing and G.W. Rouse (2014). Phylogeny of Comatulidae (Echinodermata: Crinoidea: Comatulida): A new classification and an assessment of morphological characters for crinoid taxonomy, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 80: 319-339. LIRS catalog number 1813.

Other references

  • Eeckhaut, I., M.J. Grygier and D. Deheyn (1998). Myzostomes from Papua New Guinea, with related Indo-west Pacific distribution records and description of five new species, Bulletin of Marine Science, 62(3): 841-886. LIRS catalog number 557.
  • View all references