Scientists reveal where a starfish's head is - with VERY surprising results

Trending 7 months ago
  • Previous studies suggested starfish didn't person a caput astatine all
  • Scientists now opportunity nan reply is 'much much analyzable than expected'

By Xantha Leatham Deputy Science Editor For The Daily Mail

Published: 12:00 EDT, 1 November 2023 | Updated: 12:00 EDT, 1 November 2023

It's a pastime galore will look backmost connected fondly – searching for oversea creatures successful stone pools during nan summertime holidays.

But nan first excitement of discovering a starfish whitethorn person been overshadowed by 1 overarching question: Where is its head?

The animal's different assemblage scheme has, until now, near galore to reason that they possibly don't person a caput astatine all.

But researchers person now yet settled nan debate, and nan reply is 'much much analyzable than expected'.

A squad of world scientists mapped retired nan assemblage regions of starfish by creating a 3D atlas of their genes.

If you put a chapeau connected a starfish, wherever would you put it? Scientists yet settee nan statement connected wherever nan caput is. Pictured: Patrick Star from Spongebob Squarepants 

The animal's different assemblage scheme has, until now, near galore to reason that they possibly don't person a caput astatine all

They are portion of a group of animals called echinoderms, that besides see oversea urchins and soil dollars.

Their assemblage parts are arranged successful 5 adjacent sections, successful a unsocial symmetric assemblage plan.

This differs from different animals, including humans, which person a left- and right-hand broadside that reflector 1 another.

Dr Jeff Thompson, 1 of nan study's authors from nan University of Southampton, said: 'How nan different assemblage parts of nan echinoderms subordinate to those we spot successful different animal groups has been a enigma to scientists for arsenic agelong arsenic we've been studying them.

'In their bilateral relatives, nan assemblage is divided into a head, trunk and tail.

'But conscionable looking astatine a starfish, it's intolerable to spot really these sections subordinate to nan bodies of bilateral animals.

'When we compared nan look of genes successful a starfish to different groups of animals, for illustration vertebrates, it appeared that a important portion of nan assemblage scheme was missing.

A squad of world scientists mapped retired nan assemblage regions of starfish by creating a 3D atlas of their genes

The researchers propose starfish and different echinoderms whitethorn person evolved their five-section assemblage scheme by losing nan torso region of their ancestors

'The genes that are typically progressive successful nan patterning of nan trunk of nan animal weren't expressed. 

'It seems nan full echinoderm assemblage scheme is astir balanced to nan caput successful different groups of animals.'

The researchers said this suggests starfish and different echinoderms whitethorn person evolved their five-section assemblage scheme by losing nan torso region of their ancestors.

This would person allowed them to move and provender differently, they explained.

The findings were published successful nan diary Nature.

Starfish aliases oversea star? 

Scientists precocious made nan determination to alteration nan sanction 'starfish' to 'sea star' because they're not really fish. 

NOAA explained: 'Sea stars unrecorded underwater, but that is wherever their resemblance to food ends. They do not person gills, scales, aliases fins. Sea stars unrecorded only successful saltwater. Sea water, alternatively of blood, is really utilized to pump nutrients done their bodies via a "water vascular system."

'Also, oversea stars move by utilizing mini conduit feet located connected nan underside of their bodies. Adult sunflower oversea stars tin move astatine nan astonishing velocity of 1 metre per infinitesimal utilizing 15,000 conduit feet. Tube feet besides thief oversea stars clasp their prey.

'Sea stars are related to soil dollars, oversea urchins, and oversea cucumbers, each of which are echinoderms, meaning that they person five-point radial symmetry. 

'However, this does not mean that each oversea stars person 5 arms and type pinch 10, 20, aliases moreover 40 arms exist! If 1 of these arms is lost, a oversea prima has nan amazingly expertise to regenerate it.' 


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