Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Galaxy Class of Gorgonocephalus! A Basket Star Bonanza! (A Star Trek Connection?)

Image by Viktor Lyagushkin. Gorogonocephalus from the White Sea 
Basket stars are a very unusual kind of brittle star (note that they are NOT proper starfish) which have long, branching arms which they extend into the water in order to feed. Tiny little hooks on the arms are used to capture food which eventually makes its way back to the mouth.

Basket stars occur in tropical and cold-water habitats and I have written about their feeding biology here.

Here's a nice video that shows their feeding posture in the wild

and a nice time lapse video of feeding from the Seattle Aquarium

There are currently 10 species of Gorgonocephalus recognized and they seem to occur widely...(here to go to the World Ophiuroidea Database listing)

Here are some gorgeous Gorgonocephalus sp. (which occurs mainly in cold-water settings) images to kick off 2013!! Enjoy!

Some gorgeous shots of G. arcticus from the White Sea by Alexander Semenov

Gorgonocephalus arcticus.jpg
Gorgona's head
Gorgonocephalus arcticus
Gorgonocephalus arcticus.jpg

G. eucnemis from echeng (the "rose star" is the solasterid sea star Crossaster papposus) in Alaska.
Basket star (Gorgonocephalus eucnemis) and rose star, Alaska

Gorgonocephalus from Norway, 928 meters! Arms are tucked away...Image by SERPENT Project!
Basket star (Gorgonocephalus)
Several more on a ridge, using their arms to feed. Also Norway, 928 meters. Image by SERPENT Project.
Basket stars (Gorgonocephalus)

More G. eucnemis from Alaska.. Images by jrixundewater
basketstar branches 0027
Close up of the arms..
Alaskan Basket Star 0022

An unusually pale, "bushy" individual from British Columbia. Image by Ed Bierman
basket star

Here's a really nice one of G. eucnemis. by "northwest diver"
Basket star
Gorgonocephalus fr. Newfoundland. Image by Derek Keats
Basket star
Newfoundland Image by Derek Keats

Hmmm... y'know, it never occurred to me before but Gorgonocephalus DOES bear a striking resemblance to a certain CRYSTALLINE ENTITY from the 24th Century...


Mahin said...

Strange creature. it looks strange.

Unknown said...

Curious to know if they brood eggs or not, and what type of development (larval or direct)? If larval, how long and are they upper water column?

ChrisM said...

I know some Antarctic euryalida brood (e.g., Astrotoma) but I don't know if Gorgonocephalus does...