species: Comatula rotalaria in Lizard Island Field Guide (Lizard Island Field Guide)
Comatula rotalaria

©Lyle Vail and Anne Hoggett: Comatula rotalaria in 15 m depth off Osprey Islet. Typical "resting on elbows" posture.

©Anne Hoggett: Underside of Comatula rotalaria, Watson's Bay, Lizard Island, off Chinaman's Ridge, 16 metres depth.
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Echinodermata
Class Crinoidea
Order Comatulida
Family Comatulidae
Genus Comatula
Species Comatula rotalaria



Distinguishing features

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

Comatula rotalaria adults have up to 20 arms. In immature specimens, alternate arms are reduced in size (Clark and Rowe, 1971). Cirri are absent or rudimentary. Colour is dark all over. Found only in water deeper than about 15 metres on soft sediment.


  • 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

Comatula rotalaria is found only in soft-bottom habitats deeper than 12 m.

At Lizard Island, this species is known only from off-reef areas in water deeper than 12 m on the western side of the island group.

Web resources


References that assist with identification

  • Clark, A.M. and F.W.E. Rowe (1971). Monograph of shallow-water Indo-west Pacific echinoderms British Museum (Natural History), London.
  • 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

  • Lowry, J.K. and B.A.R. Azman (2008). A new genus and species of cyproideid amphipod associated with unstalked crinoids on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Zootaxa, 1760: 59-68. LIRS catalog number 1186.
  • View all references