Wednesday, 13 June 2012

When Brittle Stars Scrap. Over Scraps.

Image: neptunecananda

Food, glorious food.
Hot sausage and mustard.

While we're in the mood,
Cold jelly and custard.

Or a dead shrimp.

It's slim pickings when you live on the muddy sea floor some 2,400 metres beneath the surface. When you come across something juicy, you grab hold of it and you never let go. And if you happen to have 5 arms to do the holding then so much the better.

And so here come the Brittle Stars, greedily grappling with what must surely be the prettiest, most colourful dinner they've seen in months. There's just one problem for our Brittle Stars - other Brittle Stars.

They end up looking like a scrum of chimney sweeps fighting over an impressively resilient piƱata. Most of the video is is at 3 times normal speed, so you really get to see the aggression and determination as dinner is pushed and pulled hither a thither amidst a tangle of spindly limbs.

We also get to see the strange rowing motion they use to drag themselves across the ground. One arm faces forward, two behind, and the ones on either side are used like oars to lumber across the mud. When they want to change direction they simply choose a different arm to be the front one and off they go.

They don't have anything you'd call a 'face', and yet each arm can serve as a face when needed. Or a leg. Or a tail. With this flexibility and their evident passion, it's no wonder these Brittle Stars get into such remarkable bust-ups.

In the deep sea, you keep your friends close, your enemies closer and your food closest of all.


TexWisGirl said...

i like your last line. could apply to most species and situations. :)

Comment1 said...

Ha! I think you're right!

Crunchy said...

Just as long as no one eats the squid!

Read that an immediately thought of you. I'm sorry, that sounds terrible, and I'm sure you'd never inject your spermatophores into anyone's tongue (at least without buying them a nice dinner first).

Comment1 said...

Oh my God that is utterly mad! I remember how the male Blanket Octopus had a spermy tentacle that had a life of it's own, it seems that other cephalopods are not so far away from that.

And er... thanks for thinking of me... haha! My sperm stings are totally consensual and seldom require a visit to the hospital.

Ethan Kranz said...


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