I used to work here when I was a grad student at San Francisco State University in the 90s and as such I have a long-standing relationship with colleagues at the museum.
Dan Blake and Dallas Peterson in 1993 in the Journal of Paleontology. Their specimen is below...
The CAS specimen (CASG 68139) is also from the Cretaceous of California... (my thanks to Dr. Peter Roopnarine and Collection Manager Dr. Jean deMouthe for their help!)
If some of you are "old timer" San Franciscans.. you may even recognize that this fossil was originally on display in the old CAS Life Through Time Exhibit!!
These specimens (and others like them) are powerful pieces of evidence for how the distributional ranges of marine animals has changed over time.
but first.. just a little introduction so we're all on the same page...
The starfish in question belongs to the Stichasteridae, which is a group of forcipulate starfishes. I wrote about the curious pattern of biogeographically arranged lineages in the family tree of these animals awhile back...
Note the purple arrow below. The Stichasterids are down at the base of the tree. Given that the record of this whole group goes back to the Triassic, the fact that they are still around is pretty cool.
But most members of the Stichasteridae are absent from the Northern Hemisphere EXCEPT in the deep-sea, such as this Neomorphaster we saw in a 2013 Okeanos Expedition, where they can be surprisingly abundant..
|From NPR: http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2012/10/09/late-cretaceous_wide-e3fc2fd33eac021deb4b6ac5b4d87cb80d50f9f2.jpg?s=6|
|from the NPS National fossil DAY page!|