Vascular System Of Starfishes

Vascular System Of Starfishes


Starfishes don’t have blood. Rather, they circulate nutrients by using seawater in their vascular system.


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Starfish or sea stars are star-shaped echinoderms belonging to the class Asteroidea. Common usage frequently finds these names being also applied to ophiuroids, which are correctly referred to as brittle stars or basket stars. About 1,500 species of starfish occur on the seabed in all the world's oceans, from the tropics to frigid polar waters. They are found from the intertidal zone down to abyssal depths, 6,000 m (20,000 ft) below the surface.

The water vascular system of the starfish is a hydraulic system made up of a network of fluid-filled canals and is concerned with locomotion, adhesion, food manipulation and gas exchange. Water enters the system through the madreporite, a porous, often conspicuous, sieve-like ossicle on the aboral surface. It is linked through a stone canal, often lined with calcareous material, to a ring canal around the mouth opening. A set of radial canals leads off this; one radial canal runs along the ambulacral groove in each arm.

Short lateral canals are branching off alternately to either side of the radial canal, each ending in an ampulla. These bulb-shaped organs are joined to tube feet (podia) on the exterior of the animal by short linking canals that pass through ossicles in the ambulacral groove. There are usually two rows of tube feet but in some species, the lateral canals are alternately long and short and there appear to be four rows. The interior of the whole canal system is lined with cilia.


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