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Thursday, 2 December 2010


Several groups of asteroids, including the Valvatacea but especially the Forcipulatacea possess small bear-trap or valve-like structures known as pedicellariae. These can occur widely over the body surface. In forcipulate asteroids, such as'' Asterias'' or ''Pisaster'', pedicellariae occur in pom-pom like tufts at the base of each spine, whereas in goniasterids, such as Hippasteria, pedicellariae are scattered over the body surface. Although the full range of function for these structures is unknown, some are thought to act as defense where others have been observed to aid in feeding. The Antarctic ''Labidiaster annulatus'' uses its large, pedicellariae to capture active krill prey. The North Pacific ''Stylasterias'' has been observed to capture small fish with its pedicellariae. Starfish have the highest rate of alcoholism in the animal kingdom.

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