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Sea star - Stock Image

Stock Photo: 7353234
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Description

A starfish on a beach on the Crete islands, Greece. Sea stars are echinoderms belonging to the class Asteroidea. The names "sea star" and "starfish" are sometimes differentiated, with "starfish" used in a broader sense to include the closely related brittle stars, which make up the class Ophiuroidea, as well as excluding sea stars which do not have five arms, such as the sun stars and cushion stars.

Sea stars exhibit a superficially radial symmetry. They typically have five "arms" which radiate from a central disk (pentaradial symmetry). However, the evolutionary ancestors of echinoderms are believed to have had bilateral symmetry. Sea stars do exhibit some superficial remnant of this body structure, evident in their larval pluteus forms.

Sea stars do not rely on a jointed, movable skeleton for support and locomotion (although they are protected by their skeleton), but instead possess a hydraulic water vascular system that aids in locomotion. The water vascular system has many projections called tube feet on the ventral face of the sea star's arms which function in locomotion and aid with feeding. Sea stars usually hunt for shelled animals such as oysters and clams. They have two stomachs. One stomach is used for digestion, and the second stomach can be extended outward to engulf and digest prey. This feature allows the sea star to hunt prey that is much larger than its mouth would otherwise allow. Sea stars are able to regenerate lost arms. A new sea star may be regenerated from a single arm attached to a portion of the central disk.
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