Friday 30 September 2011

Triton vs. Crown of Thorns Starfish

Image: Jonathan Lavan, Underwater Pressure World

We looked at the vicious Crown of Thorns Starfish and its arch nemesis the Triton snail a while ago. Here we see them in battle and to make it clear, the Triton will kill and eat the starfish. In fact, that process appears to be well under way.

The Crown of Thorns was a big starfish at some 30 centimetres (1 foot) across. They're terrifically ravenous predators of coral, covered in 5 cm (2 in) long spikes that are both ruthlessly sharp and perilously venomous. Avoid!

The Triton is one of very few creatures that pose a threat to the Crown of Thorns. I don't know how they're able to handle all those spikes! A big one can have a shell around 50 cm (20 in) in length, usually attractive from one end to the other.

They outpace their prey, grab hold of it with their big, slimy foot, cut into it with their radula which is a hard tongue covered in spikes, inject paralysing venom and then eat, soft bits first.

The idea of a snail outpacing prey is surprising in itself, and the story doesn't get any more reasonable from then on.

So, next time you look at a humble snail in your garden, think about her family and tread carefully.


Crunchy said...

Yeah, I'm thinking that if you can't outrun a snail you're probably an evolutionary dead end.

Joseph JG said...

You'd think so! It seems that eating things that are completely stationary and being covered in spikes of death has served them well.