Ever Seen a Starfish Gallop? | Deep Look


From Deep Look.

They may look cute and colorful, but starfish are actually voracious predators. To sniff out and capture their prey, they rely on hundreds of water-propelled tube feet, each with a fiercely independent streak.

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On a visit to a friend’s lab in Tokyo, marine biologists Amy Johnson and Olaf Ellers witnessed something they’d never seen before. The starfish in Tatsuo Motokawa’s lab weren’t content slowly gliding across the floor of their tank, they bounced and galloped, zooming around their enclosure.

For one of the most familiar animals in the sea, this was a new behavior, never before described in the scientific literature.

“It was an absolute epiphany,” said Johnson who studies how sea stars move and teaches marine biology along with Ellers at Bowdoin college in Maine. “ That moment we first saw them bounce completely transformed everything we were planning to do with our research.”

Since then, Johnson and Ellers have worked to change the way we understand these animals who have successfully made a home on this planet for at least 450 million years.

What do starfish eat?
Most sea stars are predators. They hunt a variety of marine animals including bivalves like mussels and clams but also sponges, snails, algae. Some sea stars are scavengers that consume detritus.

How do starfish breathe?
Sea stars mostly transpire through their tube feet which have very thin walls. Oxygenated water travels to other parts of the starfish’s body through its water vascular system.

Do all starfish have five arms?
Nope! There are many types of sea stars and while most have five arms there are stars with fewer or more. Sea stars have radial symmetry, but may have evolved from a bilateral ancestor (with right and left sides).

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Article: Sea star inspired crawling and bouncing

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#starfish #seastar #deeplook

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