Wednesday, December 21, 2016


A type of crinoid, feather stars evolved to swim to evade predators. Feather stars are a type of marine invertebrate with featherlike arms that radiate from a central body. They date back about 200 million years, says Tomasz K. Baumiller, a professor of paleontology at the University of Michigan.

Born with a stem that they shed in adulthood, feather stars can have as few as five arms and as many as 200. Their appendages are used to catch food, making these animals filter feeders. They sit in the water, expose their arms, and let nutrients moved by the current come to them, a characteristic that makes them quite conspicuous to divers and snorkelers.

Feather stars also have the ability to shed an arm the way some lizards can their tails, which is also likely an anti-predator response. Some feather stars are also toxic, helping them avoid getting eaten. But because small animals like snails often live on them, fish may comb through feather stars looking for a tasty meal.

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