IN AN echo of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous book, a lost world containing a community of animals that has changed little since Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops walked the Earth has been found. But while Conan Doyle’s lost world was on a South American plateau, its real life equivalent lies on a submerged mountain off the Antarctic coast.
Rather than dinosaurs, this lost world is filled with crinoids, the stalked cousins of sea stars and sea urchins. Also known as sea lilies, crinoids were abundant in the shallow seas of the Mesozoic, 250 to 65 million years ago. Today, however, they were only thought to exist in small numbers in the deep sea, possibly because of pressure from recently evolved predators.