|(Future predation of vertebrates by astrobiological asteroidea!)|
Well, one of the big shocks to most people is when I tell them that many species of the ever-humble sea star don't just settle for frakkin' mussels and clams..they actually GOES for the big, moving prey! shrimps, fishes and..?????
In New Zealand there lives this weird thing called Stegnaster inflatus (Asterinidae)
|(image from Seafriends.org in New Zealand)|
|(From Michel Jangoux's Echinoderm Nutrition)|
According to Anthoni's Seafriends page this is effective not only against shrimps and snails, but also seahorses and other small fishes!!!
Active Predators When I say active, I mean, they actually use a specific structure for feeding on and obtaining prey....Many of these species practice some kind of bottom-water column type feeding.
Mainly, these beasts are big, multiarmed forcipulate asteroids...hmm...an interesting trend...
1. Stylasterias forreri
Probably one of the first sea stars to be observed feeding or catching moving prey, this animal gained notoriety quickly as being the "fish eating" starfish.
I suspect that the Styla part of Stylasterias refers to "stylet"alluding to the sharp spines on the body surface.
Try as I might, I could not locate a photo or a picture of Stylasterias actually capturing a fish, so we here at the Echinoblog looked to our Echinoblogical Art Department to delivery a hypothetical rendering of this behavior:
2. Rathbunaster californicus
|(borrowed from the MBARI website)|
These handsome animals were named for Dr. Richard Rathbun, a curator of crustaceans at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. I wonder if Walter K. Fisher (who named the genus and species) realized that they fed on crustaceans when he named the starfish for him!
Although they have opportunistic tendencies (they don't always feed on mobile crustaceans) they do show a very strong propensity for eating things that swim by them..
3. Labidiaster annulatus
I wrote a fairly involved post about this really neat Antarctic predator here. But short version...it uses its huge and jagged pedicellariae:
To feed on krill as they go swimming by it. Prey get held fast by these jagged jaws and are dragged down to the mouth where they are eaten alive! Aieee!!
4. The Brisingids!