Starfish

A:

Most starfish, also known as sea stars, eat by prying open the shells of prey such as clams or oysters with their arms, pushing their stomachs out their mouths and into the prey's shell, partially digesting the animal and then pulling their stomachs back into their mouths. Starfish that don't have suction disks swallow prey whole and afterwards eject undigested parts.

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  • What phylum does a starfish belong to?

    Q: What phylum does a starfish belong to?

    A: Starfish belong to the phylum Echinodermata, which is a Greek term referring to the spiny texture of many species in the phylum. Echinodermata is the largest phylum with no freshwater or terrestrial representatives, and it includes starfish, sea urchins and sea cucumbers.
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  • Do starfish have bones?

    Q: Do starfish have bones?

    A: Starfish do not have bones, but instead have a series of hard plates that provide structure and support to their bodies. Starfish and other critters like them are called echinoderms, or marine invertebrates, which are tailed, finned animals that have backbones — they are not actually fish at all.
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  • How do starfish mate?

    Q: How do starfish mate?

    A: Starfish can reproduce either sexually or asexually. Both male and female starfish exist, though they are externally indistinguishable from each other. They breed by releasing eggs and sperm into the water. The sperm fertilizes the eggs, and the resultant larvae eventually settle on the ocean floor to grow.
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  • Are starfish considered to be endangered?

    Q: Are starfish considered to be endangered?

    A: As of May 2014, starfish are considered to be threatened. Also known as sea stars, these marine animals are easily preyed upon because they are unable to move quickly. Their underwater predators include fish, rays, crabs and sharks.
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  • What size are starfish?

    Q: What size are starfish?

    A: Starfish, or sea stars, range in size from 5 inches to over 9 inches. Starfish may weigh over 10 pounds. There are 2,000 species of starfish, with most having five arms, but some species having as many as 40 arms.
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  • What is a scientific name for a starfish?

    Q: What is a scientific name for a starfish?

    A: The scientific name for a starfish, also called a sea star, is Asteroidea. These creatures are members of the phylum Echinodermata. Echinoderms live in the ocean and have radial symmetry, with appendages usually appearing in multiples of five.
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  • What eats a starfish?

    Q: What eats a starfish?

    A: Starfish, despite their crusty exteriors, are vulnerable to predators like crabs, sea otters, sharks and other starfish. A starfish injured by any of these predators can regenerate damaged or missing limbs, although gulls swallow starfish whole.
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  • What are the kingdom, phylum, class and order of the starfish?

    Q: What are the kingdom, phylum, class and order of the starfish?

    A: Starfish belong to the kingdom Animalia, the phylum Echinodermata and the class Asteroidea. The order varies depending on the species. The common starfish, Asterias rubens, belongs to the order Forcipultida.
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  • What is the respiratory system of a starfish?

    Q: What is the respiratory system of a starfish?

    A: Starfish take in oxygen and dispel carbon dioxide through their tube feet, thin skin and a hole located on top of their body, and circulate the gases throughout their body using a water-vascular system. Their respiratory system is rudimentary and sometimes nonexistent.
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  • What do brittle stars eat?

    Q: What do brittle stars eat?

    A: Brittle stars are omnivores; they feast on organic plant matter, detritus and small animals like fish and krill as well. Brittle stars are closely related to sea stars; they are marine animals that have hard, spiny shells and multiple limbs. Like their larger relatives, brittle stars live and feed on the ocean floor; they move along at a very slow pace, and they essentially act as street cleaners by picking up and ingesting whatever suitable food comes their way.
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  • Where do starfish live?

    Q: Where do starfish live?

    A: Starfish, which have been renamed sea stars, live in all areas of the oceans that cover the Earth. The most common form of starfish is the five-armed species that earned the species its nickname. There are versions of this marine invertebrate that have up to 40 arms.
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  • What is the function of a starfish's spines?

    Q: What is the function of a starfish's spines?

    A: The function of a starfish's spines is to provide protection from sea otters, fish and birds that hunt starfish for prey. The spines are made of calcium carbonate, which forms a series of plates on the top of the starfish. Each plate features a set of small spines.
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  • How does a starfish eat?

    Q: How does a starfish eat?

    A: Most starfish, also known as sea stars, eat by prying open the shells of prey such as clams or oysters with their arms, pushing their stomachs out their mouths and into the prey's shell, partially digesting the animal and then pulling their stomachs back into their mouths. Starfish that don't have suction disks swallow prey whole and afterwards eject undigested parts.
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  • How do starfish move?

    Q: How do starfish move?

    A: Starfish move using tube feet on their undersides. Their feet use seawater to form a hydraulic system. The starfish's vascular system is open and relies on the water around it rather than internal pressure. Starfish can only move outside of water for a short time. A starfish left out of water for too long loses its ability to move, and it dies if not quickly returned to the ocean.
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  • What is the lower surface of a starfish called?

    Q: What is the lower surface of a starfish called?

    A: The lower surface of a starfish is called the oral surface or ventral surface. Another word for ventral is "abdominal." The mouth of the starfish is located in the middle of the oral surface.
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  • What adaptations do starfish exhibit?

    Q: What adaptations do starfish exhibit?

    A: Starfish exhibit several unique adaptations that enable them to survive in the world’s oceans, including radially symmetrical bodies, unique tube feet that permit movement and the ability to regenerate lost arms. About 2,000 different starfish species inhabit the oceans, and while each has adapted to its unique surroundings, they all exhibit these three adaptations.
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  • What animals eat starfish?

    Q: What animals eat starfish?

    A: Starfish are eaten by sharks that live near the bottom of the ocean, such as nurse sharks, horn sharks and Port Jackson sharks. They are also preyed upon by manta rays, Alaskan king crabs and other starfish.
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  • What are some unique characteristics of echinoderms?

    Q: What are some unique characteristics of echinoderms?

    A: Two characteristics that are unique to echinoderms are that they have radial symmetry and a water vascular system. Echinoderms use a hydraulic system to operate their limbs, and this system helps them eat. Examples of echinoderms that have radial symmetry are starfish and sea urchins.
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  • How can you preserve a starfish?

    Q: How can you preserve a starfish?

    A: To preserve a starfish, soak the starfish in alcohol and place it in a sunny location outdoors until it is completely dry. Salt and baking soda can also be used to preserve starfish.
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  • Q: How do echinoderms move?

    A: Echinoderms use tube-like feet that protrude through their bodies to move, contracting and expanding these muscular structures by taking in and expelling water through an organ called an ampulla. This muscular action is very slow and unfolds over time as the ampulla expands and contracts depending on levels of water, making echinoderms like starfish and sea urchins slow to move.
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  • How can you preserve starfish?

    Q: How can you preserve starfish?

    A: To preserve a starfish, soak it in rubbing alcohol for up to 48 hours before placing it outdoors to dry. The drying process can take several days, but it may be hastened by placing the starfish on a bed of salt and baking soda. Choose a large container to ensure there is enough space for heavy objects to weigh the arms down. Add a sealant to the starfish after drying, if desired.
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