Starfish (Class Asteroidea)
Jurassic Age, Germany
Starfish belong to a phylum of invertebrates known as Echinodermata. Echinoderms (Latin for "spiny skin") are named for their porous armor of calcite plates. Primitive Echinoderms first appeared in the fossil record 570 million years ago in the Lower Cambrian Period. Other Echinoderms include sea urchins, sand dollars, sea cucumbers, and sea lilies.
The earliest known starfish appeared in the Lower Ordovician Period. Starfish have remained relatively unchanged throughout their 500-million-year history. Starfish live on the sea floor preying on bivalves or scavenging. They have no sensory organs except for a tiny eye-spot located at the end of each arm. The nervous system of starfish is a simple network of nerves, lacking a brain. It would seem that starfish are at a disadvantage among other predators, yet they have remained among the most successful and abundant animals of the sea floor.
6 x 6 x 1 inch
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